In a long and fruitful career chock full of gems “Just like Jesse James” is perhaps one of Cher’s hits which has best stood the test of time. Perhaps because it was not a massive smash on the scale of “Believe” and charted moderately worldwide, only managing to reach No.11 in the UK and No.8 on the US Billboard Charts, “Just like Jesse James” didn’t become a zeitgeist which aged with the passing of time. While “Believe” is now considered ever so slightly annoying and hackneyed, “Jesse James” has managed to go down in history as one of Cher’s classier efforts in spite of reports that Cher herself is not a fan of it because the lyrics are a pain to remember. Makes her go on the blink you see:
Taken from Cher’s twentieth studio album Heart of Stone, “Just like Jesse James” was released in October 1989 and was the follow up to one of Cher´s seminal hits “If I Could Turn Back Time”. It’s worth pointing out that even in 1989 Cher was already 25 years into her career and still enjoying a level of commercial success which most singers can only dream of. It’s shocking that Cher was still able to produce songs of such a high quality so late in her career, some might even add that this was probably the moment when Cher was at her peak of creativity, especially lyrically. Being able to maintain such commercial success and actually produce some of your best and most well-known songs at that later point in your career is practically unheard of, but that’s why she’s considered one of the greats and lesson in career longevity. (Let’s hope Britney has a second wind or two left in her…).
But moving on to the main event, “Just like Jesse James” is often noted for its lyrical excellence which will come as no surprise as the track was actually co-penned by rock power ballad queen Diane Warren who is responsible for epic hits such as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me”, LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live”, Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be” and even Paloma Faith’s recent hit “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”. Quite the resume! So clearly that’s where “Jesse James” gets that epic, classic vibe from then.
But its Cher’s gritty, powerful vocals which bring the words to life. It takes a good actress as well as singer to pull of the western motif in a song like “Jesse James”, but Cher manages to draw on every ounce of emotion to create a realistic all round performance. And that folks is why she will be remembered as one of the best performers ever. It’s also good to see bad ass rock chick Cher getting some airtime as well because most people tend to overlook that side of her in the wake of her more campy classics like “The Shoop Shoop Song” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”. “Jesse James” might even be coming back into fashion soon in the wake of country music’s massive resurgence in popularity over the past couple of years (thank you Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum). Let’s keep our fingers crossed shall we.
Favourite Lyric: “You break the laws of love in the name of desire, take ten steps back, ’cause I’m ready baby, aim and fire”
Let’s check out which tunes are burning up the internet right now.
20) Kiesza – Giant In my Heart
Kiesza capitalises on the success of breakaway hit “Hideaway” by using a similar style on her latest single. However, “Giant in my Heart” manages to stand on its own two feet and surely will have many people getting up on theirs in the clubs. Looks like this one’s here to stay.
19) Clean Bandit – Come Over
Clean Bandit’s previous single “Extraordinary” may have been sadly overshadowed by the behemoth that is mega-hit “Rather Be”, but I have a sneaking feeling that Clean Bandit might bag themselves another smash with “Come Over”. The track has a distinctive Caribbean feel, blending violins with steel drums mixed together with the reggae tones of rapper Stylo G. This is the perfect soundtrack of the summer.
18) Amy Lavere – Big Sister
Taken from her latest album Runaway’s Diary, “Big Sister” is the highlight from its parent album. The song is an ode to being overshadowed by your elder sibling which might ring slightly too true for some listeners. LaVere’s vocals effortlessly weave the tale over a plodding throwback sixties backing beat, but the result is far from hackneyed.
17) One Republic – Love Runs Out
The last few singles that One Republic have released have been pure gold and “Love Runs Out” continues their winning streak. The track is another stomping piano driven ballad featuring the gothic lyricism of Ryan Tedder and is sure to be another massive hit for the band.
16) Becky G – Shower
17 year old California-born starlet Becky G has been knocking on the door of fame since 2011 and her latest single “Shower” is definitely the hit she needed to propel her to stardom. “Shower” has already been scaling the US Billboard charts, peaking within the top 20, and is set to be one of the break out hits of the summer.
15) Charli XCX – Boom Clap
This track has already sold over 500,000 copies in the US alone, peaking at No.14 on the Billboard Chart and is set to be a big top 3 debut in the UK this Sunday. It not hard to see why “Boom Clap” has been lighting up the charts, it sounds like nothing else out there at the minute and manages to catchy almost to the point of nausea. It good to see Charli XCX bagging herself a massive solo hit.
14) Amelia Lily – California
Another potential summer smash here from former X Factor contestant Amelia Lily. After the cancellation of her debut studio album last year it looks like Lily is back with a vengeance with pop-rock gem “California”. I can see this one burning up the radio waves all summer long.
13) The Saturdays – What Are You Waiting For
Despite only having been around since 2008, The Saturdays announced the release of their first Greatest Hits earlier this year and this is the first single taken from that collection. “What Are You Waiting For” demonstrates a more mature sound for the group and is more reminiscent of their previous hit “All Fired Up”, which went on to be a big smash for the Saturdays. I would bet my bottom dollar that this will be the group’s 14th top ten hit.
12) Sigma Feat. Paloma Faith – Changing
After producing one of the biggest smashes of the year, Sigma have decided to team up with seasoned crooner Paloma Faith (who herself is having a great year!) and the result is pure chart bliss. “Changing” is a hollering, soulful, dance tune with a massive stadium filling chorus. Paloma is undoubtedly the star of the show and it just makes you wonder why she hasn’t done a dance collaboration before.
11) Leah McFall Feat.will.i.am – Home
“Home” is the first single taken from McFall’s hotly anticipated debut album Weird to Wonderful. The former runner-up on the Voice has wisely chosen to highlight her voice on the track, a move which definitely plays to the singer’s strengths. A little bit of over singing on the chorus surely won’t hinder this in becoming a deserved chart smash for Leah.
10) Ed Sheeran – Photograph
A beautiful, heartfelt highlight from Ed Sheeran’s latest album X, which is on course to spend a fifth week at No.1 in the UK album charts this Sunday. “Photograph” sounds like an extract from an 16 year old emo’s diary and undoubtedly will receive the single treatment later on in the album campaign, but for now we can just enjoy the lyrical genius and soft vocals of one of the biggest stars on the planet right now.
9) La Roux – Uptight Downtown
It was a long 5 year wait for La Roux’s sophomore album but boy was it worth the wait. The smart, catchy hooks, the unique vocals and that trademark La Roux style are back in style. “Uptight Downtown” is a fierce piece of slinky disco pop which is driven by a smooth bass and irresistible synth riffs.
8) Sia – Eye of the Needle
Sia managed to bag herself a US No.1 album earlier this month with 1,000 Forms of Fear and “Eye of the Needle” is one of the highlights from the album. The track is a synth power ballad built around a wailing hook, much like that of a wounded wolf. Sia’s lyrics are on point as always and when she hollers /need-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-le/ just before the 3 minute mark you feel her bleeding heart.
7) Ella Eyre – Deeper
Ella’s stock has been on the rise ever since she finished second to Sam Smith in both the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award and the BBC’s Sound of 2014 Award. Ouch! But either way, it’s meant that there’s been a lot more attention on the London-born 20 year old. She managed to take her debut single “If I Go” to the top twenty of the UK singles chart last week, but smart money is on “Deeper” to be her biggest hit to date. The track is a stomping, clapping, stuttering jam which plays on current pop trends without ever sounding generic and the spooky choir in the background adds atmospheric woos to the mix. Watch out for this one.
6) Enrique Iglesias – Bailando
Coupled with its sexy video featuring a troupe of flamenco dancers, Enrique’s sexy latin offering “Bailando” was always assured commercial success. The song has so far peaked at No.17 on the Billboard charts, becoming the highest peaking Spanish-language single on that chart. It not hard to see why “Bailando” has been so popular either. It’s an irresistibly summery tune which channels that latino magic effortlessly. I could do with a bucket of that here in old England.
5) Jess Glynne – Right Here
After grabbing herself two successive No.1’s with Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” and Route 94’s “My Love” in early 2014, Glynne decided that the time was right to launch her solo career, choosing “Right Here” as her debut. The track has already peaked at No.6 in the UK and has become a club favourite. Be prepared to hear a lot more of this slinky piece of deep house.
4) Ed Sheeran – Don’t
Here’s something we haven’t really heard much of. Nice boy Ed Sheeran pissed off. The subject of the song has been rife with rumours, from Taylor Swift to Ellie Goulding, but Taylor Swift reportedly said upon hearing the song that she would never want to piss Sheeran off that much. “Don’t” is a R&B style plinkety plunkety piano tune which has already been chosen as the second single from X. This one’s set to be massive.
3) Dolly Parton – Home
Dolly Parton has been enjoying an epic career renaissance lately with her 42nd studio album Blue Smoke peaking at No.3 in the UK and becoming her most commercially successful album to date. Not bad for a 68 year old. “Home” shows off two of Parton’s best assets – her instantly relatable storytelling lyrics and massive heart. It’s impossible not to smile when you hear Parton’ talking about how happy she is when she’s home. She’s still got it!
2) Milky Chance – Stolen Dance
German folk/rock band Milky Chance seemed to have burst out of nowhere this year and their smash hit single “Stolen Dance” has already reached No.1 in 7 countries. It’s had a slow start in the UK but did manage to chart at No.24, despite not having a release date yet. The unusual vocals and catchy chorus play a large part in the song’s infectiousness and will make sure that this becomes one of the biggest hits in the whole of Europe this year.
1) Ariana Grande – Break Free
Ariana Grande is on fire at the minute, having just bagged her first UK No.1 with “Problem” and collaborating with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj on sure-fire smash “Bang Bang”. You can see German/Russian producer Zedd’s stamp on her latest single from her sophomore studio album My Everything, whose golden touch has led to one smash hit already this year with “Stay the Night”. “Break Free” is a liberation anthem which arrives just in time for festival season and is sure to be another smash to add to Ariana’s rapidly growing cannon.
The mystery of the birth of the Unguilty Pleasure is finally revealed. It all started many eons ago:
First there was guilt. There was shame. There was judgement.
The world was weighed down by the shackles of social pressure and shadow descended upon our fair planet. But there was resistance….
And then mankind slowly began to realise that it was holding itself back and started to embrace its own liberty…
And that folks was when the UNGUILTY PLEASURE was born.
Which leads me to this week’s Unguilty Pleasure and the third installment in the series. It’s….
Mark Owen – Four Minute Warning
Diminutive Take That star Mark Owen stands at just 5ft 5 (165cm for you Europeans) but that didn’t hold him back in the slightest as he became a household name in the early nineties on the back of insanely popular British boyband Take That. After the band split up in early 1996 Mark decided to step out from under the shadow of lead singer Gary Barlow and take a stab at his own solo career, a move which briefly resulted in success with the Mancunian bagging himself two top 3 hits with “Child” and “Clementine”. However, he was dropped from his record label the following year after his album Green Man failed to crack the UK top 30.
For a while it seemed that Owen had disappeared off the face of the earth, but he eventually resurfaced as a contestant on the second ever UK Big Brother in 2002 (which he went on to win with 77% of the vote!). He decided to capitalise on the publicity by signing with Island/Universal Records and chose this week’s Unguilty Pleasure “Four Minute Warning” as the song to proclaim his triumphal return to the forefront of the pop scene. For a while the move seemed to work as the single soared into the top 5 of the UK single charts, spending 8 weeks in the Top 40 and selling in excess of 80,000 copies. However, prolonged success was not meant to be for the ill-fated Mark and his album crawled into the charts at a lowly No.59. His subsequent releases have been met with the same reception but we can always enjoy his greatest solo work “Four Minute Warning”. The song is based on the Four Minute Warning, a public alert system which was thought up by the British government during the Cold War as an estimation of the time that it would take for a bomb to hit its target after detection. The catastrophe-themed tune has an appropriate sense of urgency as Owen reels off stories about the shattered dreams of the about-to-be victims of the nuclear strike. We can all count down to the apocalypse with Mark removes a minute from the clock every time the chorus kicks in. There is no time for guilt when it’s the end of the world!
Favourite Lyric: I once asked are you a lonely man, his reply was non-committal, I am what I am, man’.
Mark chose to spend his four minutes doing this. Enjoy….
This week’s Unguilty Pleasure might not be all that well known to all you lovely readers outside of the British Isles but is definitely worth checking out for the uplifting message which embodies the meaning of the Unguilty Pleasure feature.
Amy Studt – Misfit
Once labelled as the British answer to Avril Lavigne English singer songwriter Amy Studt seemed like a rising star in 2003 when her debut single “Just a Little Girl” shot to No.14 in the UK charts. She quickly followed this with two top tens, including this week’s Unguilty Pleasure and her biggest hit to date “Misfit”, which peaked at No.6 in June 2003. Her debut album False Smiles was even nominated for the coveted Mercury Music Prize and went on to sell over 200,000 copies in the UK alone. However, despite achieving a considerable degree of success the Hammersmith native wasn’t destined for commercial longevity and was dropped by her record label in early 2004 due to diminishing sales. Her subsequent album My Paper Made Men also failed to attract much media attention and Amy Studt quickly faded into obscurity.
Despite her ill-fated music career, Amy Studt will always be fondly remembered for “Misfit” due to its anthemic sing-along chorus and anti-superficiality message. This is a song which celebrates being an individual and not conforming to social stereotypes and, in a world which is so overwhelmingly superficial, “Misfit” felt like a breath of fresh air. In fact, it could even be claimed that “Misfit” is the musical prequel to the endlessly quotable now-classic film Mean Girls. A fact which becomes even clearer when considering the song’s video, which is set in a high school and is centred around fitting in with a group of popular girls. How suspiciously similar….
Favourite Lyric: “So you think you got it all worked out, you got your hotpants on, you got your arse right out”
People, it’s time to accept that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Music is made to be enjoyed and people shouldn’t feel ashamed for listening to any song, no matter how corny or atrocious. That’s why I’m starting a feature in which I will bring back a supposed “guilty pleasure” every week. So prepare to rid your minds of all complexes and stigma. Here’s unguilty pleasure number one:
Jennifer Lopez – Waiting for Tonight
It’s hard to believe that this song is now almost 15 years old! Released at the turn of the century, “Waiting for Tonight” somehow manages to sound as fresh today as it did back then and is still lauded as one of the dance-floor diva’s signature songs. If you recall the video features a now slightly dated Y2K countdown, which made it a celebratory anthem for the dawn of the new millennium and assured the then burgeoning singer a long healthy music career. “Waiting for Tonight” became the Latina diva’s second top 10 single in the US where it peaked at No.8 in December 1999 and earned the singer a nomination for Best Dance Recording at the 2000 Grammy Awards. It was also a worldwide smash, peaking in the top 5 of the UK, Australian and Spanish music charts to name but a few. “Waiting for Tonight” marked a turning point in JLO’s career and will be forever remembered as the first time she managed to shift her slinky Latina R&B vibe to the dance floor, resulting in full blown club euphoria. The chorus is also one of her most memorable efforts to date. This was the moment that we all knew that JLO was here to stay.
Favourite Lyric: “I think of the days when the sun used to set on my empty heart all alone in my bed”.
Here is the long-awaited conclusion to the Top 32 songs of April to June this year. Get ready for the big leagues. It’s 20-1!!!
20) Lily Allen – Our Time
Lily Allen was back with a bang this year with her hit and miss third studio album Sheezus. The gobby Londoner’s new musical offerings turned out to be even more hard-hitting than before, which meant that third single “Our Time” stood out as one of the more straightforward pop songs in a sea of social criticism. But “Our Time” is much more than a simple piece of pop nonsense, it’s a glimmer of the old Allen who used her lyrical sing song style to tell stories about scenarios that everybody has experienced at one point in their lives. This Allen was instantly relatable and likeable due to her down to earth attitude. “Our Time” proves that the Allen, who we all loved and admired, is not dead. She’s alive and well on this euphoric celebration of life which serves as an instant pick-me-up after a hard day at work. The track is also infinitely enhanced by Lily’s spaced out vocals which meld together with the synth-driven backing beat to create a relaxed trippy feeling.
19) Kylie Minogue – I Was Gonna Cancel
Kylie jumped on the Pharrell-bandwagon this year with the second single from her twelfth studio album Kiss Me Once. “I Was Gonna Cancel” is a funky slice of disco inspired pop with squelchy beats to boot. However, sadly it failed to become a hit for the Australian pop veteran, peaking at a disappointing 59 in the UK charts. I have no clue why everyone seems to be hating on Kylie at the minute but it’s sad to see music of this quality go unappreciated. Don’t worry Kylie! Diary of a Pop Fan loves you
18) Lady Gaga – G.U.Y (Girl Under You)
Another example of a former all-conquering global star who has been going through a rough patch recently. “G.U.Y” was selected as the third single from Gaga’s ARTPOP with the view of rejuvenating the current album campaign after the tepid reception received by former singles “Do What U Want” and “Applause”. Unfortunately, “G.U.Y” was unable to help Gaga’s career and actually became her lowest peaking single worldwide. On paper however, “G.U.Y” seems like a sure-fire hit: the song was co-written by producer of the moment Zedd, it’s actually one of Gaga’s cleverest songs in so far as it manages to celebrate the subversion of sexual and gender norms and it features some killer synths and a grinding, dirty, dirty bass. But sadly the record buying public is often very unpredictable and it seems that Gaga’s once Midas touch has turned to poison.
17) Iggy Azalea Feat. Charli XCX – Fancy
24-year old Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea had been knocking on the door of utter world domination for over a year and had even managed to bag herself 3 consecutive UK top 20’s before she went stratospheric with mega-smash “Fancy”. Upon its release, the US instantly fell in love with Azalea’s swag fiercely-real sass and the song quickly soared to the top of the Billboard Chart. It’s no surprise that “Fancy” has become the all-conquering hit that it is, seeing as it’s basically Fergie’s “Glamorous” mark 2, which notably also reached No.1 in the US. However, Iggy has succeeded in updating the sound and the chemistry between her and Charli XCX only adds to the mix. But what really sells “Fancy” is the pulsing backing beat, which requires actual brain surgery to remove from your head.
16) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself
With the second single from her album Night Time, My Time Sky Ferreira proved that the ridiculously amazing “Everything is Embarrassing” was more than just a fluke. Fuelled by a stomping backing beat and Ferreira’s confessional, gritty lyrics, “I Blame Myself” stands out amongst the backdrop of superficiality for which the pop music industry is famous. On the electro synth track Sky faces her demons by admitting that she alone is responsible for her less than respectable public image. Honesty is all too rare in the music business, especially if it involves self-criticism and that’s part of the reason why Sky Ferreira is such a fascinating artist. There is no Beyoncé- esque aura of invincibility or Gaga-like illusions of grandeur. Sky Ferreira is simply a real person using music as her therapy and, as long as it remains such good quality, may the healing process continue.
15) Wisin Feat. Ricky Martin & Jennifer Lopez – Adrenalina
This high-profile collaboration might not be familiar to English-speakers, but has so far ruled the summer in Spanish-speaking territories. Puerto Rico met America when rapper Wisin teamed up with reliable hitmakers Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin on this irresistible fist-pumper and the result is the undeniable soundtrack to the ultimate summer holiday. You don’t have to speak a word of Spanish in order to be caught up in the infectious energy and adrenaline of the track. I defy you not to throw shapes immediately.
14) Sia – Chandelier
After spending the past couple of years writing for other artists and collaborating on big dance tunes, Sia finally rebooted her solo career this year, kicking off with the bombastic first single “Chandelier” from her forthcoming sixth studio album 1,000 Forms of Fear. The Australian songstress made good her return with this epic electronica-reggae fused jam which is impossible to ignore. Sia sounds like a wounded wolf on “Chandelier” as she howls away the pain inside over booming synths. If party girls needed a self-destruction anthem, here it is.
13) G.R.L – Ugly Heart
G.R.L are currently known for their guest appearance on the recent Pitbull single “Wild Wild Love”, but one listen to “Ugly Heart” proves that they are so much better than Pitbull’s corny lines. “Ugly Heart” was produced by Ke$ha collaborator Dr. Luke who chose to capitalise on the country EDM trend started by Avicii last year by knitting together the production with a prominent guitar line. The stomping beat lends pace to the track and the girls’ no s**t attitude turns this into a semi-feminist anthem. But what really makes this track stand out and gives me hope that G.R.L will have a bright future are the groups powerful, unique vocals which convey all the kick ass, sassy attitude of a woman who is calling out a no-good ugly hearted ex-boyfriend and reasserting the old adage that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
12) Mei Feingold – Same Heart
Billed as the Israeli Lady Gaga, Mei Feingold, who finished third on the Israeli Pop Idol, was immediately lauded as one of the favourites to win Eurovision this year. Her soaring, power-house vocals, the slick choreography and slow-burning, lazy guitar riff won over supporters in droves and the song was predicted to finish within the top 5 at the very least. However, in a shock result “Same Heart” went crashing out of the competition way before its time, not even reaching the Final and leaving Europe flabbergasted. One can only speculate as to why such an injustice was done to such a quality song and artist. Perhaps Feingold’s intense performance was not to Europe’s tastes (and Lady Gaga is the new Norah Jones). Maybe the bitter arsenic oozing from her voice left viewers intimidated, rather than moved. Maybe they felt overpowered by the rising, dramatic climax and melodrama. Maybe Mei’s uniquely deep voice made them believe that Eurovision had one Conchita too many this year. Either way, “Same Heart” will go down as the best Eurovision song never to reach the finals.
11) Ed Sheeran – Sing
Ed Sheeran could have gone one of two ways with the first single from his much-awaited second studio album: “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”- esque rap mixed with R &B funk or soulful balladeering in the style of past hits such as “The A Team” and “Lego House”. The form Sheeran is on at the minute suggests that either would have worked, but in the end he decided to take a bigger risk and opted for the Pharrell-assisted “Sing”, which shot straight to the top of the charts earlier this month. Luckily for Sheeran, his Pharrell collab ended up being much more successful than Kylie’s and the rowdy chorus will no doubt have you singing your lungs out before too long.
10) Enrique Iglesias Feat. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona – Bailando
Despite falling slightly flat with his English language comeback this year, Enrique has been ruling the Spanish-language charts this summer and even managed to achieve his 26th Latin Airplay No.1 with “Bailando”, the sixth single of his tenth studio album Sex and Love. The track has also managed to find success in English-language charts as well, becoming one of the highest peaking Spanish tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 ever, having peaked at No.35 thus far. And it’s no wonder when Enrique so effortlessly channels fresh summery beats and generously spreads the warm, Latin rhythms across the globe. Also, don’t miss the sultry flamenco troupe dancing in the video. Spain’s tourist board will be sending flowers.
9) Kiesza – Hideaway
Canadian new-comer Kiesza appeared out of nowhere in April 2014 and managed to grab herself a UK No.1 record when “Hideaway” shot straight to the top of the charts and became the third fastest selling single of the year. Kiesza was apparently influenced by her mother’s love for 90’s dance when she was growing up, which ultimately led to the development of the deep-house flavoured “Hideaway”. The song has already stormed the charts worldwide and catapulted the Calgary-native to instant stardom. It’s not hard to see why either. With “Hideaway” Kiesza has managed to craft something that sounds simultaneously familiar and innovative. It’s one of those rare moments when the stars align, lightning strikes and pop perfection is created.
8) Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
Rita Ora made good use of her former boyfriend producer and singer Calvin Harris on the first cut from her sophomore album. “I Will Never Let You Down” features the guitar-riff of the summer and a bouncy breakdown to boot, which helps to create a fresh smooth new sound for the Kosovo born starlet. The electro synth style suits her to a T as she purrs over the boisterous beat which is full to bursting with hooks. If there was ever a sure fire No.1, this was it.
7) Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Sam Smith managed to capitalise on the media attention surrounding his burgeoning career by providing the world with one of the most emotive ballads of the year. Sam’s voice has never sounded so rich and soul-drenched. Lyrically and sonically “Stay with me” is definitely back to basics, but instead of being a hindrance, the simplicity only enhances the beauty and effectiveness of the track. The stripped back backing drumming and the gospel-esque chorus helps make “Stay With Me” one of the most emotional tearjerkers of the year. The man can do no wrong.
6) Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Paloma Faith has never really been a singles artist, but people seem to buy her albums by the bucket load. However, this time something clicked and she finally managed to secure two top ten singles off one album with the sassy “Can’t Rely on You” and now “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”. In fact, the latter managed to out peak the former in a rare twist of events and became her biggest hit to date, peaking at No.6 on the UK charts. Obviously the public have taken a shine to Faith’s new Motown influenced sixties-style. After all, who could resist the combination of those power-house vocals with the stomping drumming and brassy instrumentation? Pure Bliss.
5) The Common Linnets – Calm after the Storm
The true winner of Eurovision 2014 and the most unique song in the competition this year. The Common Linnet’s country-bluegrass ditty stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the glitz and glamour of this year’s Eurovision entries and was the indisputable dark horse of the competition. It became a shock success and the Netherlands’ highest peaking entry since 1975, picking up an astonishing 238 points and finishing second. What’s more, immediately following Eurovision, “Calm after the Storm” managed to peak at No.9 on the UK singles chart, well out-peaking the winner Conchita Wurst, who entered at No.17 with “Rise like a Phoenix”. The key to the tunes’ success lies in the singer’s sincerity and the song’s authenticity. “Calm after the Storm” sounds like a genuine country hit and not just a flashy Eurovision show tune. In fact, it’s a shock that the Common Linnets even decided to enter Eurovision when “Calm after the Storm” would have most likely become a hit in Europe even without the publicity provided by the song contest. It has a classic feel to it, enhanced by the unassuming, plodding beat, warm gritty vocals and serene simplicity that are as welcome as a big warm hug when you come home after a hard day.
4) Mr Probz – Waves
It’s shaping up to be a good year for the Netherlands, with back to back Dutch tunes assaulting the top 5 of this chart. Mr Probz burst practically out of nowhere earlier this year after his song “Waves” was remixed by German producer Robin Schulz, which propelled the single to instant success across all of Europe. “Waves” has managed to peak at No.1 in Austria, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the UK as well as in many others and became a club smash worldwide. However, the genius of “Waves” is that Mr. Probz somehow managed to create musical onomatopoeia in so far as the relaxing, ensnaring dance beat and his soulful vocals wash over you like waves across the shore. Get smart people, it’s clearly the way forward.
3) Coldplay – A Sky Full of Stars
Coldplay never fail to deliver. Six albums in and they are still managing to rule the world with innovative tunes of relentlessly epic proportions which somehow succeed in appealing to every gender, age group and musical taste. “A Sky Full of Stars” shows the band at their stadium-filling best and proves that they can pull off songs that aren’t completely miserable as well. Chris Martin’s soaring vocals and piano-riffs never get old, especially when infused with some of producer-extraordinaire Avicii’s magic dust. However, Chris’ voice is definitive enough to not get washed away amidst the heavy production and the EDM festival-ready chorus. This is what bottled euphoria sounds like.
2) Ella Henderson – Ghost
What do you do when you fight through the stages of the X Factor each week, constantly being championed as a favourite, only to crash out in week 7? Do you crumble under the disappointment and fade away into obscurity never to be heard of again? Oh hell no! You immediately rope in unfailing hit maker Ryan Tedder to provide you with one of the best tracks of the year and prove that you were the rightful winner. Tedder’s gothic lyricism, storming piano line and thumping percussion are rife on “Ghost”, which is no bad thing, but can overwhelm certain artists. When you’re song contains words such as “creeping, sin, pain, hell, saint, pray, wash the pain, haunting, and demons”, it’s easy to fade under the melodrama. Not Ella though. She makes her own luck with “Ghost” and the track would be nothing without her bellowing, bluesy tones and the subtle bruised tone which lends the 18-year old a conviction well beyond her years. “Ghost” is a slow burning fireball which grows into a raging inferno and I have no qualms in saying that it is the best X Factor song since “Bleeding Love”. Possibly even better. After all, she even manages to fit in a sneaky pun thinking we wouldn’t notice. Give up the ghost. You’re too much Ella! Go on lass.
1) Ariana Grande Feat. Iggy Azalea – Problem
For those of you who haven’t heard of Ariana Grande, she is a 20 year old Florida-born singer who rose to fame in 2010 after portraying Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious. The singer released her debut album Yours Truly in 2013 which peaked at No.1 in the US and produced several hit singles, including the easy-breezy “The Way”. The singer made a triumphal return earlier this year with her comeback single, the 90’s influenced “Problem”, which is currently sitting at No.2 in the US, just behind Iggy Azalea’s Fancy (a feat which allowed Azalea to become the first act since The Beatles to occupy the top 2 spots on the Billboard Chart with her first two releases). “Problem” has also already been a hit in Australia, Canada and most of Europe and is indisputably the song of summer 2014. Here’s why:
1) Grande’s power-house vocals – Contrary to many TV star-turned-musicians, Grande has an amazing voice which has the ability to soar higher than the empire state and does so freely on “Problem’s” bridge section.
2) The sexy saxophone loop – It’s official. Brass is back! Grande cleverly manages to cash in on this current pop trend on “Problem”, which gives the single a slightly sleazy sexiness.
3) Iggy Azalea’s short but sweet feature rap – Despite having been around for years, Iggy has only just achieved success in the US, meaning that Grande’s “Problem” couldn’t have come at a better time. Pop is in love with the way she spits out her syllables and anything she is on is destined for success.
4) Attitude – Grande’s got bags of it. Iggy’s got bags of it (must be 2 for 1 somewhere) and they got one less problem without you. No hanger-on loser man can bring them down. It’s practically a feminist rallying cry!
Basically “Problem’s” brilliance is a combination of all of the above and then some. Move over “Blurred Lines” there a new soundtrack of the summer in town.
So that’s it for the Top 32 of the Second Quarter of 2014. As always feel free to leave any comments on facebook or on this blog and thank you very much for reading.