The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 40-21

Part 4 of my countdown of the Best Pop Songs of 2015! Remember that there are links to watch each video if you click on the song name next to its chart position:

40) Galantis – Gold Dust

Galantis always reliably produce tunes with massive sing-along choruses but they surpassed even themselves with the intense sugar rush that is “Gold Dust”. We get a soulful minute and a half long build up featuring some bewitchingly majestic vocals from Vincent Pontare before the drop has us bouncing up and down in a euphoric frenzy.

39) Hozier – Someone New

Hozier proved he was far more than a one hit wonder with this deceptively bouncy song about never being attached to one person. If you listen closely you can hear the hopelessness in his voice which is beautifully contrasted with the jaunty production. He almost fooled us this time but one thing you can guarantee with Hozier is that he’ll never be a cheery fellow. At least you know exactly what you’re getting with him.

38) Jessie Ware – You and I (Forever)

Always the class act, the third single from Jessie Ware’s second studio album Tough Love, further demonstrates her ability to enchant the listener with her soulful vocals and engaging lyrics. On “You and I (Forever)”  she furthers her exploration into matters of the heart but this time, thankfully, she seems all loved up.

37) Troye Sivan – Wild

If you haven’t already heard of Troye Sivan, you’re soon will have. Tipped for big things in 2016, this 20-year old Johannesburg native is already one of YouTube’s biggest stars with 3.6 million subscribers and he has his eye firmly set on being the next big noise in music. He released his debut full length album Blue Neighbourhood this December, peaking top ten in Australia and the US. Lead single “Wild” is a surprisingly mature ode to forbidden love which explores the too often underrated dream pop genre.

36) Disclosure Feat. Lorde – Magnets

Lorde is just keeping us ticking over quietly until her next full length project with tidbits of mind-blowing singles. “Magnets” is one of her finest productions to date, depicting her as a lethal femme fatale who has been hired by a scored woman to punish her philandering lover. Never ones to be outdone, Disclosure threw a lot of production tricks into this one, making this collaboration one of the freshest and most exciting of the year.

35) Carly Rae Jepsen – Your Type

On an album chock full of pop treats, “Your Type” stands out as Carly’s most clever and moving song to date. It’s all very Robyn-esque which is never a bad thing. In fact, many critics have liked “Your Type” to Robyn’s fantastic “Dancing on My Own”. Indeed, they do both share upbeat electropop production which conceals their truly heart wrenching lyrics about unrequited love. However, “Your Type” is much softer and more relatable making it the superior track.

34) KDA Feat. Tinie Tempah and Katy B – Turn the Music Louder

It’s always great to hear new music from the ever elegant Katy B and this time I’ll even overlook Tinie’s cheesy raps as they provide the perfect contrast to Katy’s power soul vocals. This 90’s inspired-house track has us all cranking up the volume in 2015.

33) Justin Bieber – Sorry

Bieber continued his all-dominating streak with this tropical house- influenced apology which saw him knocking Adele off the number one spot in the UK. Sorry Adele! Many see this track as Bieber’s apology for his shocking behaviour over the past couple of years. It just goes to show that all is forgiven as long as you make good music.

32) Selena Gomez – Good For You

Selena has always been a bit of a sex kitten, but this hot ‘n’ spicy had us all hot under the collar. It’s great to see that Selena is adding more subtleties and nuances to her music which allows her to stand tall among other current R&B artists. She manages to restrain herself in both her delivery and lyricism which demonstrates just how much the former-Disney starlet has grown up. Those days seem long, long ago now.

31) Ed Sheeran Feat. Rudimental – Bloodstream

Ed Sheeran’s “Bloodstream” was already one of my favourite tracks off X and Rudimental’s subtle additions to the single version elevated it the stratosphere. The addition of the drum and bass to the chorus is genius and really matches the lyrical themes of the song. An example of a remix done spectacularly right.

30) Karen Harding – Say Something

This soulful deep house banger came from an extremely unlikely source. Karen Harding first became known on the X Factor UK but didn’t even make it to the final 12. Now it seems like the extra creative room and time to breathe has done her the world of good. “Say Something” is a statement of a first single which rightfully scored Harding her first UK top ten single.

29) Tove Lo – Talking Body

Rihanna may not have done much this year (where is the elusive Anti I ask you), but her many imitators kept us going all throughout the year. Tove Lo is, of course, much more than you’re average copycat but the production on “Talking Body” is very reminiscent of Rihanna jams and would fit very nearly amid her cannon. Having said that, “Talking Body” is a surprising layered pop song which features more hooks than a pirate convention and, most importantly, it is miles better than the crass “Bitch Better Have My Money”.

28) Calvin Harris & Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

After finishing up with his latest album Motion Calvin decided a change of tack was in order for his next project. “How Deep Is Your Love” is the Scottish DJ’s first foray into deep house but hopefully not his last as it works supremely on every single level. Norwegian singer Ina Wroldsen’s playful, taunting vocals glide over thumping house beats to create one of the freshest, on trend singles of 2015.

27) Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Upon my first listen to X, “Photograph” immediately stood out as the most beautiful and personal track on the entire album. A gentle and delicate ballad “Photograph” was reportedly inspired by Sheeran’s romance with fellow singer songwriter Nina Nesbitt with whom he shared a long-distance relationship.

26) Adam Lambert – Ghost Town

I always felt Adam Lambert had bags of potential but never the quality of material to match it. That was until his gloriously ghoulish comeback this year with the minimal witch house “Ghost Town”. Adam has always conveyed personality to his music, but he’s always seemed like more of a caricature to me, probably due to his over-exuberant nature. But this time he pitched it perfectly, incorporating all the best of his charisma into the frightfully good “Ghost Town”

25) Calvin Harris Feat. HAIM – Pray to God

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: HAIM have the best harmonies in pop. Their 70’s-inspired sound never fails to put a smile on my face and I was delighted to see that they have remained true to this style in the face of dance heavyweight Calvin Harris. “Pray to God” is dripping with drama and staccato vocals, both which are only enhanced by Harris’ magic touch.

24) Alesso Feat. Tove Lo – Heroes (We Could Be)

Possibly THE hands-in-the-air anthem of 2015, Alesso enlisted Sweden’s current darling Tove Lo’s help for this David-Bowie song reworking. “Heroes” may have been released in January but its intoxicating joyfulness continued well into festival season and beyond.

23) Petite Meller – Baby Love

I love a good new artist and Petite Meller was one of the most exciting discoveries of 2015. The piano-driven “Baby Love” was suitably idiosyncratic and quirky for the French born singer. Her music is surprisingly sexy for someone who looks like am overgrown doll come to life but therein lies the uniqueness of it all. I can’t wait to see what she does in 2016.

22) Madonna – Ghosttown

Madonna’s Rebel Heart excelled for its ballads and “Ghosttown” was the best of the lot. This post-apocalyptic love letter has been lauded by critics alike as her best single for decades and with good reason. Rarely has Madge sounded so sincere and engaged with her music. She has never been the best vocalist but her voice sounds beautiful here. Sure it wasn’t the biggest hit, but keep it up Madonna.

21) Sia – Elastic Heart

“Elastic Heart” is a stunningly well produced single with some of the most personal and effective lyrics of 2015 which manage to succeed in creating an emotional connection without one iota of mushiness. The controversial video to “Elastic Heart” featuring Madie Ziegler and Sia LaBeouf may have been ridden with claims of paedophilia but it still managed to finish the year as the 8th most viewed video on YouTube.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

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The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 60-41

Part 3 of the epic countdown of the Best Pop Songs of 2015. Please bear in mind that if you want to listen to any of the tracks there is a hyperlink in the title of the song which will take you directly to YouTube. 🙂 You’re welcome:

60) Janet Jackson – No Sleeep

This quiet storm of a lead single proved Janet has still got whatever “it” may be in spades. A sultry, sensual, slow jam which is so personal it almost feels like we are intruding on a private love scene. Saucy….

59) Enya – Echoes in Rain

Enya returned in style this year with “Echoes in Rain”, the rousing lead single from her latest album. The song has a refreshingly religious sentiment which acts as the perfect antidote to the loose-moraled popstars of today.

58) Drake – Hotline Bling

Mostly just for the moves….

57) Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

Justin’s third UK No.1 single in a row after turning from pantomime villain to respectable artist (well…semi respectable). This Ed Sheeran co-write is a surprisingly bitchy kiss off to a former lover who spent a little too much time looking in the mirror.

56) Galantis – Runaway (U & I)

This euphoric anthem of a track comes courtesy of some of the hottest Swedish producers of 2015. The shout-along chorus is undoubtedly one of the catchiest of the year.

55) James Bay – Let It Go

It’s not always all about the bells and whistles in pop you know and James Bay more than proved that with this moving, delicate ballad packed with loads of heart. The emotional complexity of Bay’s songs is astounding and on “Let It Go” he proves that fragile and strong are not mutually exclusive.

54) Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance

The spiritual heirs to Alphabeat’s throne. Fun, sharp, shamelessly poppy “Shut Up and Dance” was the hit that wouldn’t get out of your heads in 2015.

53) Lana Del Rey – Music to Watch Boys To

Over the years Lana Del Rey’s commercial appeal may have diminished slightly but, in terms of songcraft and lyricism she has definitely upped her game. “Music to Watch Boys To” is a typical Lana-esque track which effortlessly succeeds in painting an otherworldly dreamscape like only the Queen of Despair can.

52) Coldplay – Adventure of a Lifetime

I honestly think Coldplay should have gone disco years ago if “Adventure of a Lifetime” is anything to go by…And it had better not be there last album or there’ll be hell to pay!

51) Florence and the Machine – What Kind of Man

This was just the Florence comeback we needed! First she draws you in with the slow, controlled beginning before descending into full hollering mode with more drama than a Pretty Little Liars episode. “What Kind of Man” is a out and out triumph of a pop song.

50) Jason Derulo – Want to Want Me

He’s been knocking at the door for a few years now but with the slick, poised elegance that is”Want to Want Me” Derulo finally inherited Usher’s throne as the King of Smooth. Long may he reign.

49) Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

Like her or not, Carly Rae Jepsen knows how to write a damn good pop song. She doesn’t try to be cool at all, in fact she is probably the antithesis of the concept, but therein lies the charm. I am genuinely chuffed to bits to declare that “I Really Like You” restored Jepsen to top ten glory worldwide. Just where she should be!

48) Taylor Swift Feat. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

This poison-pen banger earned old Swifty a third US No.1 off 1989 fueled by the explosive, star-studded video featuring the likes of Cara Delevingne and Cindy Crawford to name but a few. Just don’t get on the wrong side of Taylor or you might find out first hand that band aids really don’t fix bullet holes!

47) The Weeknd – Earned It

The Weeknd properly burst into public consciousness in a big way this year with this sultry, slow-burner which featured on the Fifty Shades of Grey Film Soundtrack. Drawing on classical influences and tied up together with some potent strings, “Earned It” was so naughty it was nice.

46) Kygo Feat. Parson James – Stole the Show

Quick to capitalise on the success of his first original single”Firestone” earlier in the year, Kygo managed to score a second worldwide hit and establish himself as one of the most exciting DJs of recent times with this infectious summery jam. He truly “Stole the Show”.

45) Sia – Alive

If there was any shadow of a doubt that Sia is one of the best vocalists of her generation there isn’t anymore. Originally penned for Adele’s comeback album “Alive” is the power ballad to end all power ballads. The world just can’t get enough of Sia’s killer pipes and rightly so.

44) Elle King – Exs and Ohs

Rock ‘n’ roll newcomer Elle King bagged herself a US smash hit with her debut single “Exs and Ohs”towards the end of the year. This gritty little ditty about her ex boyfriends haunting her is the perfect contrast to the overwraught love song. Could even be the new “Independent Women”!

43) Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Talking about her upcoming third studio album Delirium, Ellie Goulding promised us full blown pop and that’s exactly what delivered in spades. lead single “On My Mind” was another international smash and, whether or not it is a dig at Ed Sheeran, it’s clear that sassy definitely suits Ellie.

42) Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Boston-born singer Rachel Platten finally broke through to the mainstream after years of trying with the truly sincere and empowering “Fight Song”. Her lyrics are so honest and autobiographical that you can’t help but root for her. Never stop fighting love.

41) Jess Glynne – Take Me Home

After a slew of upbeat, joyful singles Jess Glynne let us see her vulnerable, side in this candid ballad which solidified her status as one of today’s most versatile and exciting artists.

Please feel free to comment and share. Thank you for reading!

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

 

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 80-61

Welcome to the second part of Diary of a Pop Fan’s Best Pop Songs of 2015 list. Let’s kick things off with a nice bit of soulful balladeering from Will Young shall we:

80) Will Young – Like A River

“Like A River” may not have been an official single from Will Young’s sixth studio effort 85% Proof but it was certainly the most beautifully understated track on the whole album.  I do love it when songs refuses to follow a traditional verse-chorus structure and on “Like A River” it only helps to intensify the drama on this smoldering, classy production

79) Cheryl – Only Human

Cheryl has produced some thumping good pop tunes over the years but ballads have never been her strong suit…until now. “Only Human” is the title track from Cheryl’s fourth studio album and her most personal effort to date. The Imogen Heap-esque ballad sees the Geordie songstress’ voice layered in vocoder in a not-unlike-Cher cerca 1998 fashion and, interestingly, she has never sounded more sincere.

78) Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly 

For the fourth single from their debut full length album Pharmacy the Swedish newcomers decided to go disco. As a result, “Peanut Butter Jelly” is one of the most explosive and feel good tunes of the year and it stood out on the radio for all the right reasons.

77) DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

DJ Snake’s remix of London duo AlunaGeorge’s debut single breathed new life into the track, making it an international hit and a radio staple all throughout the summer. Like it or not, there was no getting away from that infectious hiccuping beat in 2015.

76) Zedd Feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know

“I Want You to Know” may be a little by numbers but sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This euphoric, joyous pop delicacy comes courtesy of two stars at the top of their respective games and you’d better believe that no one was complaining this pairing.

75) Nicky Jam Feat. Enrique Iglesias – El Perdón

Following on from 2014’s hip-swivelling “Bailando”, Enrique was at it again this year, yet again producing what is undoubtedly THE Spanish language hit of 2015, . “El Perdon” was literally inescapable all summer long.

74) Sara Bareilles – She Used to Be Mine

One of 2015’s most random pop albums came from an unlikely source. Sara Bareilles’ fifth studio album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress actually serves as the soundtrack to the stage adaption of the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film Waitress and lead single “She Used to Be Mine” perfectly encapsulates the main plot in one beautiful, vulnerable four and a half minute song.

73) Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Grande’s My Everything album was chock full of big tunes but for her fourth single she chose to take it down a notch with mid-tempo EDM ballad “One Last Time”. The production is flawless but it’s Grande’s angelic vocals which take centre stage here.

72) Robin Schulz Feat. Ilsey – Headlights

German producer Robin Schulz followed up a stellar 2014 with more entrancing deep house offerings this year. “Headlights”, the first single from his second studio album Sugar and focuses heavily on Isley’s ethereal, soaring vocals.

71) The Weeknd – The Hills

The Weeknd kept surprising us throughout 2015 and “The Hills” is a prime example of why he is one of the freshest things in pop right now. The spooky track somehow manages to combine hammer horror style screams with The Weeknd’s silky falsetto to create a something truly original and not to mention sexy.

70) Enya – Even In the Shadows

Irish songbird Enya is one of the biggest selling artists ever, having sold an estimated 80 million albums worldwide. After a lengthy 7 year absence, Enya returned this winter with her eight studio album Dark Sky Island which was met with universal praise and returned her to the top 10 across the globe. “Even In the Shadows” is shining example of Enya’s ability to transport the listener to another world and fits neatly into her already existing opus.

69) David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj & Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

We always knew that an Afrojack and David Guetta hook up would be explosive but this four way tag team power tune far exceeded expectations. Tribal wailing never sounded this good!

68) One Direction – Drag Me Down

Among the slew of tears following One Direction’s announcement that they were going on hiatus appeared some of the boyband’s finest work. Made in the AM shakes off the faux rock shtick found  on Midnight Memories and Four in favour of full throttle pop anthems, the best of which is the irresistible lead single “Drag Me Down”.

67) Avicii – Waiting For Love

When I first heard this, I could have sworn it was Chris Martin singing on the track, but it turned out to be Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost doing his best Martin impression. But once I got over that “Waiting for Love” turned out to be one of Avicii’s finest productions to date and features what is probably his stickiest synth line. Delectable.

66) Years and Years – Shine

This 80’s inspired piece of synthpop ensured that the London electronica trio had longevity past their Spring smash hit “King”. Once that huge chorus kicks in you soon fall under “Shine’s” spell and by the time the breakdown comes around, you’ll be begging for more.

65) OMI – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)

Summer 2015’s most ubiquitous tune and one of the highest selling singles of the year. The insanely catchy sax loop on this track just drills into your brain and refuses to let go.

64) Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Norway has been knocking it out of the park the last couple of years in Eurovision but this year they surpassed themselves. “A Monster Like Me” is an intelligent, brooding classic ballad which boasts some of 2015’s most stellar harmonies. Sadly, the Eurovision 3 minute rule  does this haunting masterpiece an injustice. I could have done with another 2 minutes at least!

63) Iggy Azalea Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

This jaunty piano jam continued Iggy’s chart dominance into 2015. Her slick, punchy verses marry well with Jennifer’s sassy, soulful choruses. It’s good to hear good ol’ Hudders on the radio again after a series of recent flops.

62) Madonna – Joan of Arc

Not the best year for Madonna by any stretch of the imagination. Her comeback album Rebel Heart may have been a tad patchy but, when it was good, it was very good and “Joan of Arc” is a prime example of this. It’s one of Madonna’s most autobiographical songs and affords us a rare glimpse of vulnerability from the material girl.

61) Leona Lewis – Thunder

After breaking free from the gilded cage that was Simon Cowell’s record label, a newly liberated Leona Lewis burst free from her shackles and made a glorious comeback with this fighter anthem. She may have gone through the wringer to get to this point, but her music is all the better for it.

 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 100-81

It’s that time of the year already! My favourite part of the year when I get to countdown the best songs of 2015. Let’s not lie…these countdowns are completely subjective and obviously depend on personal taste. For example, if you came here looking for grunge you will most likely be very disappointed. But the purpose of this list is just to celebrate some of the best (in my opinion) pop songs of the year. Giving kudos where kudos is due. So please feel free to disagree, comment and post your own lists. Full disclosure “Uptown Funk” does not…I repeat…not feature in the list. Before you bite my head off, please note that it came out in the UK last November and featured in my Best Songs of 2014. Ok now that’s out of the way, if you don’t mind, I’d like to kick off this years top 100 on a slightly sombre note:

100) Birdy & Rhodes – Let It All Go

After the revived success of her 2013 track “Wings” in the UK this year on the back of that Lloyds horse story advert, Birdy teamed up with Hertfordshire newcomer Rhodes to pen this haunting ballad. If you’re feeling like you want to feel some feels, I’d recommend watching this live version of “Let It All Go“. It literally is spellbinding!

99) Miley Cyrus – BB Talk

When Miley dropped her Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz album at the end of August reactions varied from horrified stupification to dumb fascination. While the album could have done with some judicious slicing, this confessional mid tempo ballad is one of the moments that really works. The spoken verses sound like a conscious stream of thought which allows Miley to air exactly what she thinks of her overbearing lover (N.B. if it’s written about Liam Hemsworth, he could never be too overbearing!)

98) Years and Years – Eyes Shut 

This stellar piano ballad starts subdued and eventually evolves into a powerhouse tearjerker. Not only does it show lead singer Olly Alexander’s vocals at their very best but it also caps off a stupendous year for the Years and Years boys.

97) Cee-Lo Green – Music to My Soul

Late in 2015 Cee-Lo decided to drop this uplifting tribute to New Orleans which celebrates life and sends a universal message about finding light in darkness. From anyone else it may have come across as cheesy, from Cee-Lo it’s gold.

96) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman 

The former Oasis frontman returned this year to remind us all why he is still the best. A classy and classic example of Noel Gallagher’s supreme songwriting “Riverman” stands tall among Oasis’ back catalogue.

95) Rudimental Feat. Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

Rudimental decamped to Jamaica to record most of their current album We the Generation and nowhere does it show more than on brotherhood anthem “Lay It All On Me”. It may not have been released in time to become a summer smash but its steel drums and keyboard synths have served to remind us all of those hot, lazy days all throughout quarter four.

94) Urban Cone Feat. Tove Lo – Come Back to Me

Swedish five piece Urban Cone established themselves as one of the most potent forces in electronica when they enlisted fellow countrywoman Tove to assist them on this towering synthfest.

93) Alessia Cara – Here

Never since Alicia Keys has the world been more excited by a new R&B artist and it’s no wonder when the effortlessly smooth 19-year old Canadian dropped the slow-burning, introvert anthem of the 2015 as her first single. “Here” serves as the perfect antidote to all those Katy Perry and Rihanna party jams and has managed to make staying at home alone cool again (if it ever was before…)

92) Selena Gomez – Same Old Love 

As it turned out, Selena Gomez’ second solo studio album Revival was very aptly titled. Truth be told, she has never sounded more engaged with her music, especially after the samey Stars Dance. “Same Old Love” sees her experimenting with styles different to her typical EDM, incorporating a wonky-piano loop and finger click beat. It almost sounds like she’s talking about being sick of her old EDM style rather than an old flame.

91) Zara Larsson & MNEK – Never Forget You

18-year old Swedish pop star and former winner of Sweden’s Got Talent, Zara Larsson, has slowly but surely been positioning herself for world domination over the past couple of years, having already conquered Scandinavia and most of Europe. “Never Forget You” was a great introduction to the star-in-the-making and Larsson is my top tip to be massive in 2015. Expect big things.

90) Demi Lovato – Cool For the Summer

Despite being cool for the summer, Demi Lovato brought on a heatwave with the first single from her fifth studio album Confident. She ensured we all had a hot, hot summer with this saucy comeback single, possibly the cheekiest, bi-curious jam since “I Kissed a Girl”.

89) Sigma Feat. Ella Henderson – Glitterball 

As soon as I heard “Glitterball” I was instantly reminded of my summer holiday Croatia. Blue skies, crystal waters and beautiful, tanned people. “Glitterball” picks up right from where “Changing” finished in that it’s a colossal, drum and bass fueled holiday anthem with some hella powerhouse vocals from Henderson.

88) Foxes – Better Love

After the disappointingly generic “Body Talk”, Foxes made a proper comeback with the wistful “Better Love”. Her soaring, ethereal vocals make this one of her most effective and heartbreaking tracks to date.

87) Little Mix – Love Me Like You

Little Mix have gone from strength to strength since winning the UK X Factor and “Love Me Like You” is one of their poppiest and funniest efforts to date. This time round they went all retro with some ace syncronised dancing and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It’s like a flashback to the good old days of Spice Girls. In fact you could say that it’s Little Mix’s “Stop”.

86) Miley Cyrus – Lighter 

As already stated, Miley’s latest studio effort was a psychedelic, messy effort but it did feature one relatively sane track which stood out among all the madness. Oh and it’s apparently about Ariana Grande. Ain’t that sweet.

85) Marlon Roudette – When the Beat Drops Out 

Simon Cowell’s Syco record label heralded the start of summer with this its first foray into Calypso tropical house. “When the Beat Drops Out” is as smooth as a margarita and features what seems like the vast majority of all the steel drums in Trinidad and Tobago.

84) Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband 

Meghan Trainor proved she was onto a winner with her doo-wop stylings by continuing her winning streak all throughout 2015. “Dear Future Husband” may have come under fire for its “aggresively heteronnormative message” (good god…) but if you don’t take life too seriously like me, you’ll appreciate the catchiness of it all.

83) Nero – Two Minds

Nero came back with an updated future house sound this summer but the chunky, brash synths and bass are still all present and accounted for, and that is no bad thing at all.

82) Nicki Minaj Feat. Skylar Grey – Bed of Lies

Grey’s soft, heartfelt vocals combined with Minaj’s confessional rapping creates the perfect blend of sticky ‘n’ sweet. A true highlight from The Pinkprint.

81) Charli XCX Feat. Rita Ora – Doing It

This sassy hookup is every bit the party anthem as “Party in the USA” or “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”. A joyous celebration of youth, fun and living life to the dirtiest.

 

Hope you enjoyed 100-81 on my list of the best songs of 2015. Please feel free to comment, like, share, express your disdain/approval. All is appreciated.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

Forgiven, Not Forgotten: The Story of The Corrs

Corr-blimey! Guess who’s back!!!

In light of The Corrs recent comeback album White Light I felt the time was right to take a look back over the group’s 20 year discography and cherry pick some of the ripest tunes plump with juicy pop goodness. Now listen up, there’s a lot to get through…

We all remember The Corrs as one of the most popular and inescapable turn-of-the-century family bands whose inoffensive, Irish folk infused brand of pop meant they were never far from the top ten of the UK singles chart. History has a way of ironing out the bumps in the road, but lest we forget that The Corrs did not find initial success outside of their homeland of Ireland until much later than their 1995 debut. Their story is actually one of successful crossover to the international pop mainstream after being largely classed as a folk band.

It is 1995. The year of “Wonderwall” and “Waterfalls”. Boyzone and Take That are sending girls with top knots into a frenzy all over the planet. Lorde has not even graced the planet yet. Let’s take a minute to take all of that in…ok done. The Corrs, four bright eyed and bushy tailed siblings hailing from Country Louth, Ireland, have their eyes set on world domination. Their debut album Forgiven, Not Forgotten is released to positive critical and commercial reception, yielding three top ten singles in Ireland, including the No.1 “Forgiven Not, Forgotten”.

While Forgiven, Not Forgotten does manage peak at No.36 on the UK album chart, it fails to produce a top 40 UK single. Regardless, The Corrs embark upon a two year world tour before returning to the studio with renewed vigour and ambition.

However, their second studio effort Talk On Corners is fraught with setbacks. Many artists often suffer from “the difficult sophomore album” syndrome due to the pressure of following up initial success and, for a while, it seemed as though The Corrs would fall victim to this curse. Producers from the band’s record label Atlantic were so unimpressed by their recordings, particularly “So Young” and “What Can I Do”, that they threatened not to release the album at all. Finally Talk On Corners was released in October 1997 and was initially met with a lukewarm response, with all three of its singles (“Only When I Sleep“, “I Never Loved You Anyway” and “What Can I Do“) continuing their trend of missing the UK top 40.

However, their big breakthrough came when they contributed a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” to the 1998 album Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. The album’s release was preceded by a televised live concert in the Albert Hall on St. Patrick’s Day featuring Mick Fleetwood and a day long VH1 special dedicated to The Corrs. This greatly raised the group’s profile and, as a result, they decided to issue “Dreams” as a single and include it on a reissue of Talk On Corners. The single soon found chart success, becoming The Corrs’ first UK top 10 single, peaking at No.6 in the UK.

From this moment on there was no stopping The Corrs. They were on the cusp of reaching the zenith of their career. A remixed version of “What Can I Do” was released as their next single and peaked at No.3, becoming one of the most ubiquitous summer hits of 1998. The single also peaked at No.1 in Canada and went top 10 in most major markwets. The Corrs’ success on the UK singles chart saw sales of Talk On Corners surging, which sent the album soaring the top of the UK charts, staying there for 6 weeks in 1998.

Subsequent single “So Young” kept The Corrs dominating the radio waves throughout 1998 and ensured that Talk On Corners did not leave the UK top 10 for the rest of the year (save one pesky November week when it logged in at No.11…). Due to this continued success, Talk On Corners finished 1998 as the highest selling album of the year in the UK.

1999 saw the band release a remixed version of their debut single “Runaway“, which became the group’s biggest hit yet, peaking at No.2 in the UK. Here’s a bit of chart history for you – “Runaway” was held off the top spot by none other than doe-eyed Britney Spears with her seminal debut hit “…Baby One More Time”, which was, in turn, the highest selling single of 1999 in the UK. Despite this “Brintervention” (“Britney intervention” in case that wasn’t clear…), “Runaway’s” runaway success sent Talk on Corners back to the top of the UK album charts for a further 4 weeks and ensured its further success throughout 1999, ending the year as the 9th highest selling album. Due to its mammoth sales, Talk On Corners actually still remains one of the best-selling albums in this the UK with nearly 3 million copies sold.  Such was their success that their debut album Forgiven, Not Forgotten also scaled the charts in 1999, finding a new peak of No.2 in March while Talk On Corners still held the top spot. This feat of having two albums in the top two of the UK albums chart had only previously been achieved by The Beatles and was not matched again until Adele’s 21 and 19 did the double in 2011. Thems some badass chart facts for you people!

The ridiculously hardworking band didn’t let 1999 go out without a bang either, releasing an unplugged album as part of the MTV series just in time for Christmas. The album peaked at No.7 in the UK and scored the band yet another top 20 single with the poptastic “Radio”. Unplugged proved that the band sounded just as good with or without production and continued their winning streak. By this time there was no bringing The Corrs down from the dizzy heights of success.

By July 2000 The Corrs had readied their follow up studio album In Blue (gosh they used to work these pop bands so hard back in the day. They were literally like machines). Lead single “Breathless” is, for me, the epitome of early naughties pop and you honestly can’t fail to be charmed by the band’s sweet harmonies and prominent fiddle lines on this summer delicacy. The single proved to be a smash and soon became The Corrs’ first UK No.1, their second in Canada, as well as a top ten smash throughout Europe and Oceania and Canada. It even managed to peak top 40 in the notoriously hard-to-break US market. “Breathless” finished 2000 as the 33rd best seller of the year in the UK. On the back of this success,  In Blue shot to No.1 throughout Europe, becoming the group’s second British chart topper and peaking at No.21 stateside.  Subsequent singles “Irresistable” and “Give Me a Reason” also managed to crack the UK top 30 but failed to replicate the success of “Breathless”.  Still, In Blue’s international success established The Corrs as one of the most popular bands in the world at the turn of the century.

The following year The Corrs decided to release a “Best of The Corrs” collection containing all their biggest hits and new single “Would You Be Happier?” which peaked top 15 in the UK. The album peaked at No.6 in the UK and went 2xPlatinum for over 600,000 sales in this market alone. Told you there was no stopping them!

This period was followed by a relatively quiet period for the band, who had been constantly touring, recording and performing since 1995. In the next two years they took a break before returning in style in summer of 2004 with the appropriately titled “Summer Sunshine” which returned them to the top 10 of the UK and became a moderate hit throughout Europe and Oceania. This was followed by the release of their 4th album of original material Borrowed Heaven which debuted at No.2 in the UK, being held off by Keane’s Hopes and Fears (which went on to be the second best-selling album of the year).

Their follow up single “Angel” was written about the sudden death of the band’s mother Jean Corr, who died in 1999 of lung cancer at the age of 57. The single saw limited success worldwide but did manage to peak at No.16 in the UK. It’s actually one of my favourite singles by the band and a touching tribute to a lost loved one. It is very difficult to make such a difficult event into a positive and the band succeeded in finding the maturity and perspective to celebrate their mother’s life.

After finishing their Borrowed Heaven tour, 2005 saw the band take a dramatically different direction, choosing to release an Irish-themed record consisting of traditional Irish songs. The album Home saw the band return to their roots after adopting a more mainstream sound in recent years. It was compiled using some of their mother’s favourite songs and was released exactly 10 years after their debut Forgiven, Not Forgotten. The albums commercially success was limited in major markets with lead single “Heart Like a Wheel/Old Town” bowing at a somewhat muted No.68, becoming their lowest peaking single. As a consequence, Home only managed to peak at No.14 in the UK,  but it did chart quite strongly throughout Europe, cracking the French, Spanish and Swiss Top Tens and topping the chart in their native Ireland. After this the band split to pursue solo careers and to raise families.

Subsequent years have been very quiet for the family band. Andrea Corr, the band’s lead singer and the youngest in the family, has released two solo albums Ten Feet High and Lifelines which both peaked top 40 in the UK but whose success was somewhat limited compared to that of The Corrs. The albums, however, did produce bouncy, fun singles “Champagne from a Straw” and “Tinseltown in the Rain”, which are worth a second glance.

The only other sibling who released any music during their extended hiatus was Sharon Corr who also released two solo albums, Dream of You and The Same Sun, with the former reaching the UK top 40 and producing the single “It’s Not a Dream”.

Now, ten years after calling it time on their pop music career, The Corrs are back with their sixth studio album White Light. Looking back on their catalogue of hits I have to say I expected something a bit more immediate for their big comeback single than “Bring On the Night”. Sure those trademark harmonies are as tight as ever, but in a world dominated by flashy performances and caterwauling X Factor contestants, The Corrs particular brand of polite pop has the potential to slip under the radar. However, White Light has already managed to crack the Irish top 10 and peak at No.11 in the UK during the busy Christmas season, which is no mean feat, especially since White Light shows literally zero progression from their early 2000 sound. That being said, there is something very refreshing about The Corrs’ confidence in their own skin. I couldn’t really see them doing EDM anyway and who’s to say there isn’t still room for their traditional folk influenced pop rock stylings. I don’t know what the future is for the band but I do know that I am glad to see them back. Vive les Corrs!

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave comments and share 🙂

Further listening:

Switching It Up

This extra special edition of Diary of a Pop Fan is a joint effort from me and my fellow pop tart Vicky who have combined forces to exalt a hidden underground pop talent. Don’t think big, loud, brash pop diva GaGa. This is more of a soulful, dulcet toned-Alicia Keys type who turned her back on the mainstream to hone her musical prowess. Enough stalling already….it’s none other than Emily King!! 

Emily King

Vicky 

Vicky pictureYou know when you hear a song somewhere and you think “What is that? I must find out who the artist is and get the whole album now!” Then you hear the album and those songs become your soundtrack for the next month or 2 or 6 or 12? Well that’s what happened to me with Emily King.

I heard her song “Believer” through the speakers of my boyfriend’s car and was instantly drawn to the head nodding tempo and lip biting beat. This is not to mention the incredibly catchy chorus which will be stuck in your head for days – in a good way.

Emily King is a singer/songwriter from New York and although she is not very well known in the UK in 2007 she was listed as a Grammy nominee for Best Contemporary R&B Album and has toured with the likes of John Legend and opened for Alicia Keys, Chaka Khan and Maroon 5.

Her album The Switch is her third and is an absolute gem. Other hit tunes on her album are “Good Friend” and “The Switch” both with a similar flavour to “Believer”, but focusing on other themes. Throughout her album what is most noticeable is the extremely clean cut production. It is flawless and has a sharp edge to it that can only be appreciated when heard, and is hard to describe in words.

Her voice has an irresistible smokiness and she knows how to manipulate lyrics to make the most of the instrumental supporting her. Every track, both slow and more upbeat, is a hit with me – especially “The Animals”. It’s theme of making bad decisions in friendships really resonated with me, especially as it’s not something that is often sung about.

Her sound is a mixture of funk, jazz, R&B and most definitely pop (which is why I thought that it would make an excellent addition to this blog). However, it is evident that she gets her inspiration from a variety of different places as in the song “Already There” it is clearly inspired by Mac Demarco’s music.

I cannot recommend this more – go and have a listen 🙂

 

David

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Cooler and fresher than a tall glass of lemonade enjoyed whilst lying in the grass at the height of a long, lazy summer The Switch is one smooth customer. A fact which is even more surprising when you compare it to her previous output. Emily’s first album 2007’s East Side Story sounds undeniably raw and gritty compared to sweet talkin’ The Switch. Hindsight is 20/20 and time has revealed East Side Story to a clear compromise between her style and her record label’s desires for more mainstream appeal, resulting in a slightly disjointed sound. We can also chalk a bit of it down to trying too hard on your first go out. It usually takes the best artists a few goes to find their trademark style and the piano led style of The Switch fits Emily’s voice and tone much better than the guitar lines of her previous work without a doubt. The Switch is the sound of someone who has finally found their way in the world.

The biggest difference is in King’s vocal delivery which has become more staccato, sharp and crisp. King has picked up a few tricks of the trade in 8 years and one of them is a breathy, airy quality (also currently favoured by 70’s revival girlband HAIM who are, in turn, inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s harmonies). Yet despite this, it feels like King is barely making any effort at all (in the best way possible). Not once does her voice sound stretched. Not once is she uncomfortable with her new vocal style. Some of this is down to the sticky and sweet production which blends pop and R&B, combining the catchiness and hooks of the former and the sultriness of the latter. The result being that The Switch bobs along at its own pace, regardless of the listener, which is undoubtedly a good thing as too many artists nowadays make albums designed for commercial appeal. Understandably they want the largest amount of people possible to hear their music but they do usually end up compromising (sometimes unwittingly) on substance. The Switch’s melodies are unrushed, given space and time to aerate. Think of an R&B version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”. It reminds me of Corinne Bailey Rae’s first album in its willingness to become an irrepressibly sunny soundtrack to an endless summer day.

As well as the songs that Vicky has recommended, I would definitely urge you to listen to album lead single “Distance”, which has which has currently racked up over 425,000 views on YouTube. However, The Switch is undoubtedly best enjoyed as a continuous, glorious 36 minute-long breath of fresh air. Enough to make everyone a believer.

Further listening: Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Sade, Corinne Bailey Rae

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