I love this part. It’s that time when I countdown the best songs of the first half of the year. There have been some corkers! Bear in mind that this list only goes up to the end of June so some of your July faves might be missing. That’s for the December second half. Here goes:
55) Kodaline – The One
Yeah I know Kodaline are a bit meh. They’re the personification of white bread and most of their music has all the life of a rotting corpse (I thought Irish people were supposed to have some fight in them…) However, once every album, as with “High Hopes” from …In a Perfect World, Kodaline produce an inspirational track that warrants a second glance. It seems that “The One” will be their “special song” from their latest album Coming Up for Air, which honestly is a whole lot of bland nothingness for the most part. The album itself has received a frostier reception than the last which suggests that people are getting bored of being bored and “The One” only managed to crawl into the UK top 40 at a muted No.27. However, I actually feel that “The One” deserves a bit more than that. It takes a few listens but its simple and inspirational message does eventually hit the spot, demonstrating that, despite their overall mediocrity, Kodaline do have something special about them.
54) Clean Bandit – Stronger
New Eyes, Clean Bandit’s debut album, is just the gift that keeps on giving. “Stronger” is the 8th single overall from the album and the 2nd from the winter 2014 reissue. This includes one massive number one in the form of the megahit “Rather Be”, three top five hits “Real Love”, “Extraordinary”, “Stronger”. It’s a wonder it isn’t the biggest bloody album ever! “Stronger” just adds to the group’s status as one of the biggest dance bands in the UK right now. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the radio in the best possible way as it certainly doesn’t sound remotely like anything else in the charts right now, which can only be a good thing.
53) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman
I didn’t even bother listening to any of Noel Gallagher’s band’s first album for many reasons:
– I was still upset Oasis had broken up.
– The band’s name is utterly idiotic. I mean who calls their band “high flying birds”. What does that even mean?
– I was sick to death of his sheer douchebaggedness (I coin this word for Diary of a Pop Fan).
But now I’m actually regretting it as the few songs that I’ve heard from his latest album are actually quite good. “Riverman” is definitely a highlight for me. It’s unpretentious, timeless and full of individual character. The lyrics are given space to breathe as the relaxed guitar chords and brass wash over the listener. I’m full team Noel now!
52) Madonna – Living For Love
It’s unfortunate but when I think of this song I can’t help replaying Madonna’s disastrous Brit Awards fall over and over in my head. The memes are just so funny it’s hard to resist. If you haven’t seen it, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!! Check it out and let the mirth spiral forth:
There’s also a “This is Sparta” version which is a must see:
So now we’ve got that unfortunate incident out of the way, we can move on to other issues. The marketing was weird. Too purposely provocative. The song has nothing to with bullfighting but she inexplicably decided to dress as a matador for the song’s video as some kind of protest. Keep out of it Madge! The promo was also marred by the songs early leak which led to its low chart positions around the world. Without a big lead single, the album underperformed and Madonna chose to lower herself to cheap gimmicks such as flashing her bum at the 2015 Grammy awards. I mean really… how the Queen has fallen.
The whole thing is a massive crying shame as Rebel Heart is actually her best album in a decade. There are still a few absolute stinkers on it but the good definitely outweighs the bad in this case. Unfortunately that means that Madonna has had two flop-ish (for her standards) albums in a row now, after the atrocity that was MDNA. How many more can she afford?
51) Becky G – Can’t Stop Dancing
Becky definitely released this song in the wrong season. Instead of winter, she should have timed this for summer release as it is one of those irrepressible Latino influenced tracks that you tend to hear on your holidays in Spain all summer long. She kind of missed that boat. Either way, she managed to brighten up my January and simultaneously show her diversity. By the way, doesn’t she sound (and even look) a bit like Selena Gomez in this video?
50) Ariana Grande – One Last Time
Grande can do no wrong right now. Her album “My Everything” is proving to be a greatest hits all of its own, churning out smash after smash. Every song could be a potential single, which is reminiscent of Rihanna’s Loud or Good Girl Gone Bad albums before she got kooky and experimental. “One Last Time” is the latest in a line of top tunes which could have easily been released as the first single from My Everything. Ariana’s vocals soar to unimaginable heights and the drum beat rhythm lends the whole song a furious pace. As end of the world jams go, it’s definitely up there with Britney’s “Till the World Ends”.
49) Rihanna Feat. Kanye West and Paul McCartney – Four Five Seconds
Believe me, I was excited as anyone about Rihanna’s return to music. I was expecting a glittering, glamourous “We Found Love”-esque anthem, or at least something of “Diamonds” standard. However, when I heard she was going a bit more folksy I was ready to embrace the new direction too. But what the hell is “FourFiveSeconds”. Yelpy vocals that make your ears split. Awkward lyrics such as “I’m about to spazz” (Thanks Kanye….) and what the hell is “wildin’”. What does that even mean!? Also, the pointless feature by Paul McCartney. He adds absolutely zero, except a little bit of credibility. The whole thing is a faux attempt to seem deep and meaningful when if you actually listen to the lyrics it means nothing! I wish she would stay how she was because at least then she knew she was singing about nothing. Plus, we all know it would be better without Kanye. Everything is better without Kanye…
However, the chorus is undeniably catchy and it has been a massive hit throughout the world so I have included it on the list to keep the mobs with pitchforks at bay. Let’s hope RiRi has something better up her sleeve than this (hint: “Bitch Better Have My Money” will no do…)
48) Nicki Minaj feat. Skylar Grey – Bed of Lies
This song is music to my ears, both physically and metaphorically. The blend of Skylar’s sweeter than candy hook and Minaj’s gritty rap is pitch perfect and the message of the song also strikes a chord. Minaj may be a very polarising character but she is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making accomplished pop songs.
47) Sigma Feat. Labrinth – Higher
What is love? An eternal question and one which British drum ‘n’ bass group Sigma address on their latest smash “Higher”. Starting with a tribal chanting “Higher” lives up to its name, rising into a soaring, drama-soaked chorus which leaves you thirsting for more even after it fades out.
46) The Weeknd- Earned It
Some creative instrumentation affords this breakout hit by the Weeknd endless, oozing drama and sensuality. His voice sounds like melting chocolate and is ten times as sinful. Overall, the whole song gives the impression of a night out at the opera with a fabulous Bond-esque femme fatale on your arm. I think the Weeknd should be commissioned to do the next Bond soundtrack after this, if Adele’s unavailable to do it again of course.
45) Ella Eyre – Together
Ella Ella Ella. How do you solve a problem like Ella? She has all the ingredients of a popstar: the diva attitude, the big voice, the big hair. She could be a global star of Beyonce proportions but has yet to produce a top ten hit on her own. Of course she has had massive hits such as “Gravity” and “Waiting All Night” with other artists. She is the go-to-girl for collabs you might say, but that’s not enough. In order to carry an album on her own she needs to produce her own big hit single. So far not so good, her debut “Deeper” crawled into the top 75 and all subsequent singles have been top 20 hits which just missed out on the top 10 and quickly dropped away. In short, she needs a big radio hit. She has the quality tunes but it seems that something isn’t clicking. It seems that her debut album Feline is coming out in August so it seems that after “Together” she will have one more big single opportunity which will undoubtedly be make or break for the album. Let’s hope she gets that hit because, in the words of Ella herself, we are more TOGETHEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRR!
44) DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre – Gravity
This girl again! We should change her name to Ella everyw-Eyre!! (sorry…I couldn’t help it). Now this tune was a genuine No.4 smash for the London-born Beyonce usurper. How come she can’t do this on her own? I don’t get it. Anyway, on “Gravity” DJ Fresh takes full advantage of Eyre’s impressive pipes, basically getting her to holler the songs title on repeat for three minutes. Now you can’t really go wrong with that can you?
43) Florence and the Machine – What Kind of Man
This was something of a notable departure for the flame haired songstress, “What Kind of Man” features a strong guitar line throughout. It takes a while to get going which is the only criticism but once it does…now that’s what I call intensity. Hell hath no fury like a woman scored has never been more appropriate a phrase. It just makes it seem even more ironic that Florence’s new album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was marketed as a stripped down, more subtle effort. I can confirm that that was a whole load of rubbish. But who cares. You don’t go to Florence for a quiet chill.
42) Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Right from the first beat “Shut Up and Dance” is loud, bold and chaotic and it never really stops until the last bar. This guitar driven piece of fun-filled pop is the perfect remedy to all the dance hits which have been dominating the charts. There is nothing wrong with them at all! But it’s nice to have the variety and Walk the Moon’s debut single fits into that category rather snugly.
41) Zedd feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know
A welcome return for Zedd and a high profile collab with one of the biggest names in pop right now. “I Want You to Know” is one of Zedd’s poppiest efforts but does feature a killer bassline hook which is ideal for fist pumping (I can confirm that from personal experience at Ultra Europe). Lots of lovely floaty imagery as well with the lyrics like “you and me bleed the same light”. Summer euphoria.
Thanks for reading and tune in for the next part! Coming soon.
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