The Brit Awards 2016: Everything you need to know

It’s that time of year again! Forget the Grammys! The Brit Awards is the biggest event of the British music calendar. It’s always full of drama, mishaps and general celebrity craziness. There have been so many blunders in The Brits’ long and colourful history that it has rightfully earned a notorious reputation among music fans. Get it right and it can make your career. Get it wrong and it will ruin even the most beloved of celebs’ reputations. Adele’s majestic performance of “Someone Like You” at the Brits 2011  may have shot her to global stardom but you don’t hear much about Joss Stone after her faux-American accent Brits debacle, do you? 

So all eyes will turn to the Brit Awards 2016 tonight the 24th February at 8pm to see who will provide the highlights but, more importantly, the lowlights of the chaotic ceremony. Ever reliable comedy duo Ant & Dec are presenting and they are usually good at reigning in the madness so it shouldn’t go far wrong with them at the helm. Here’s a list of all the performers who we can look forward to seeing tonight:

BRIT Awards 2016 Performers

  • RihannaI wouldn’t be so confident about this one because she did drop out of the Grammys due to to illness so I wouldn’t put it past her to do the same with the Brits. But if she does end up performing we could see a collab like when she hooked up with the Klaxons in 2008. If she performs something from Anti, it’s probably going to be “Kiss It Better” because she was due to perform that at the Grammys and it seems like a potential second single. Popstars love a good promo opportunity. 
  • Little Mix – Reliable, fun and beloved by teenage girls everywhere. Expect a bit of “Black Magic” from these lovely lasses.
  • James BayThis one has had a big ol’ year so he’s more than earned his place performing at the Brits. Ever the straight-laced, good boy, I wouldn’t expect any shenanigans from him, just a straightforward performance of either “Hold Back the River” or “Let It Go”. 
  • Jess GlynneGod I wouldn’t even know which of her 5 chart toppers Jess is going to perform. She could bring Tinie Tempah out and give us a bit of summer magic with “No Letting Go” but it’s more likely that well get a bit of “Hold My Hand” or “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself”. 
  • Adele – Everyone knows every track on 25 so she could literally perform anything. My bet is on current single “When We Were Young”. It’s pretty emotional so this could be another “Someone Like You” moment. 
  • The WeekndGot to be a bit of “Can’t Feel my Face” please. It’s just so funky. 
  • Justin BieberSpoilt for choice. “What Do You Mean”, “Sorry”, “Where R U Now?” or “Love Yourself” whichever he chooses, we’re happy. 
  • ColdplayFresh from their performance at the SuperBowl, could we see a bit of Beyonce assistance for a performance of “Hymn for the Weekend”?

There will also be a tribute to the late British music icon David BowieWill it live up to GaGa’s Grammy performance?

BRIT Awards 2016 Nominations

Adele, James Bay and Years and Years are all currently leading the pack in terms of nominations with 4 each and Calvin Harris and Jess Glynne have each racked up an impressive three nods. Here’s a rundown of all the nominations:

British Breakthrough Act
Catfish & the Bottlemen
James Bay
Jess Glynne
Wolf Alice
Years & Years

So the Brits have thrown us a bone this year and we can actually vote for this category. They like to make us feel like we have some power. The illusion of democracy. Catfish & the Bottlemen is a bit of a random choice since their album came out in September 2014 and they haven’t had any singles chart within the UK top 190. They’ve definitely been chucked in there for a bit of credibility. I would be happy with Years & Years, James Bay or Jess Glynne. They’re all pretty worthy but probably Jess Glynne deserves it the most for smashing records last year. 

British Male Solo Artist
Aphex Twin
Calvin Harris
James Bay
Jamie XX​
Mark Ronson

Calvin only really released one big single last year so he’s probably not going to win and Mark Ronson seems like ages ago now. After all, Uptown Funk” came out over a year ago and won Best British Single last year so it has been recognised for being the chart dominating smash it is, leaving James Bay to take this one quite comfortably. 

British Female Solo Artist
Adele
Amy Winehouse
Florence & the Machine
Jess Glynne
Laura Marling

Jess Glynne did so well in 2015 but Adele just came along and blew her out of the water at the end of the year, especially in terms of international success so I reckon she will nab this one from the hapless Glynne. 

British Group
Blur
Coldplay
Foals
One Direction
Years & Years

I really would love Years and Years to win this one because they really did have an amazing 2015, racking up a UK No.1 single with “King” and a chart topping album with Communion. I have to hand it to 1D who really upped their game for their latest album Made in the AM so I couldn’t rule them out. Coldplay also had their SuperBowl moment but that was probably too recent to be counted. 

Critics’ Choice
Jack Garratt
Izzy Bizu
Frances

We know this one already. Jack Garratt is pretty much guaranteed to be the next big thing for 2016 and his win should provide a boost for his album Phase which came out this week.

British Single
Adele, “Hello”
Calvin Harris & Disciples, “How Deep Is Your Love”
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental, “Bloodstream”
Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
James Bay, “Hold Back the River”
Jess Glynne, “Hold My Hand”
Little Mix, “Black Magic
Olly Murs ft. Demi Lovato, “Up”
Philip George, “Wish You Were Mine”
Years & Years, “King”

I’m predicting a bit of a clean sweep for Adele this year and British Single could definitely be one of the big ones she nabs. Mostly because it’s a timeless tune with an ultra-classy vocal performance from the biggest person in pop right now. But actually “Hello” is not the highest selling of all the nominated singles. That accolade goes to “Love Me Like You Do”, so Ellie could take the crown just as easily in the name of diversity. 

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Adele, 25
Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams
Florence & the Machine, How Big How Blue How Beautiful
James Bay, Chaos & the Calm
Jamie XX, In Colour

Has to be Adele doesn’t it? After a lengthy absence she returned in style in the Winter of 2015 with the appropriately-titled “Hello”. Her album sold a ridiculous 800,000 copies in its first week in the UK and immediately outsold everything ever! So in terms of sales she definitely deserves the accolade. 

British Producer of the Year
Charlie Andrew
Mark Ronson
Mike Crossey
Tom Dalgety

For services to music and for being awesome, I give you Mark Ronson. 

British Artist Video of the Year
Adele, “Hello”
Jessie J, “Flashlight”
Little Mix, “Black Magic”
One Direction, “Drag Me Down”
Ed Sheeran – “Photograph”

It should be “Black Magic” but One Direction’s legions of fans will ensure that the boys take home the Best Video accolade. This is pretty much a foregone conclusion. 

International Male Solo Artist
Drake
Father John Misty
Justin Bieber
Kendrick Lamar
The Weeknd

Serious competition from The Weeknd but Justin Bieber was just so dominant in the second half of 2015 to the point where he made history repeatedly so he really does deserve it. 

International Female Solo Artist
Ariana Grande
Bjork
Courtney Barnett
Lana Del Rey
Meghan Trainor

This one will probably go to Meghan Trainor and very deservedly I must say but I wouldn’t mind Lana Del Rey or Ariana Grande winning. They both had stellar years in 2015. 

International Group
Alabama Shakes
Eagles of Death Metal
Major Lazer
Tame Impala
U2

Major Lazer. Just for “Lean On”. Tame Impala are awesome but they aren’t as high profile as the Lazers. 

 

So there you have it. I predict Adele will be the big winner of the night with 3 trophies for Best Single, Album and British Female Solo Artist. We’ll just have to wait to see how accurate I was. I will see you on the other side. Drama et al.

TO THE BRITS 2016! 

 

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The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 20-2

20) Florence and the Machine – Ship to Wreck

A song as chaotic and dramatic as the crashing waves which inspired it, “Ship to Wreck” managed to conclusively prove that Florence is best when she just let’s it rip. Apparently, when making her third studio album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Florence was told off for making too many songs about water. Guess this one slipped the net then…

19) Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams

Will 1989 ever stop producing hits I ask you? “Wildest Dreams” is the fifth single from her unfathomably popular album and represents a departure from the upbeat 80’s pop which we had previously heard. Taking her cue from the lazy, dreampop of Lana Del Rey, Swift transforms into a smokey eyed temptress cooing seductively over smoother-than-chocolate beats. Irresistible.

18) Chvrches – Leave a Trace

After their stellar debut, Chvrches must have been very acutely aware that the stakes were high for their comeback but, instead of trying to pander to anyone, lead single “Leave a Trace” sees Lauren Mayberry and the boys adopting a no-nonsense, “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude. Too many bands now make music for their audience and not for themselves which limits their creativity. But thankfully not Chvrches. They always sounded like they don’t give a f**k and “Leave a Trace” reaffirms this with tremendous shade being thrown in every direction. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

17) The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

“Uptown Funk” reintroduced the fun genre in a big way at the beginning of the year and several artists rode the wave in 2015 but none more successfully than The Weeknd with this delicious drug-fueled jam.

16) Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Someone sprinkled fairy dust all over Jess Glynne’s luscious fiery locks this year. The Hampstead-born popstar racked up 3 number one singles in 2015 alone which added to her total of 2 in 2014, tying her with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini for the most number ones by a British Female Solo Artist. “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” is a raucous, uptempo slice of pop with lyrics taken directly from a self-help book and Glynne’s powerhouse vocals soar over everything to create the ultimate empowerment anthem.

15) Skrillex and Diplo Feat. Justin Bieber – Where R U Now?

Nothing could have prepared us for this dramatic switch in direction in Bieber’s style of music when he launched gamechanger “Where R U Now?”. The track gave haters (including myself I should add) a serious case of whiplash and truly opened him up to an audience beyond the tween market. His vocals carry some lethal emotional weight and the Diplo/Skrillex production is relentlessly catchy. Leftfield is sometimes the best field.

14) Marina and the Diamonds – I’m a Ruin

Who would have predicted that Marina Diamandis was capable of such lyrical depth and vocal nuance. Songs like “I’m a Ruin” only come along once in a blue moon as it takes extraordinary self-awareness to create such a devastating song of self-loathing and, come to think of it, bravery to share it with the public. Marina has finally come of age and revealed herself as the true heir to Kate Bush’s introspective, dream pop throne. Hope she doesn’t listen to “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” or we might be tragically deprived of future “I’m a Ruins”.

13) Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

This was the moment we knew Jess Glynne could make the switch from beloved feature singer to solo super diva. From the opening bouncy piano to Glynne’s acapella style vocals, everything rings true about this joyful piece of soulful, discopop.

12) Rudimental Feat. Anne-Marie and Will Heard – Rumour Mill

Rudimental’s sophomore effort We the Generation may have not caused the splash created by their first studio effort Home, but it’s still guilty of serving up some of 2015’s most potent tunes with the crisp deep dish house track “Rumour Mill” leading the pack. It’s quite a wordy song as songs go but, despite the lyrical abundance, the singers sound like they’re not making an ounce of effort at all. This “too cool for school”attitude could have been alienating if it weren’t for the simplistic noir video which sees singers Will and Anne-Marie throwing some mean shapes in the back of a car. We’ve all been there…don’t deny it.

11) Years and Years – King

Years and Years had already established themselves as one of the bands to watch at the end of 2014 with hits such as “Desire” and “Sunlight” but it wasn’t until “King” that they definitively burst into the mainstream. But if you’re going to take you’re time you may as well do it in style which is exactly what Years and Years did. “King” immediately arrests the listener with it’s whirling, arabic-influenced synth hook and lead singer Olly Alexander’s soulful vocals finish the job up nicely officially rendering us kings under his control.

10) Little Mix – Black Magic 

Until now Little Mix had been criminally underrated but thankfully they weaved some potent “Black Magic” this summer leaving us all at the mercy of the Mixers’ spell. We’re sure not complaining. Those handclaps, “heys” and sassy lyrics make this literally the perfect pop song.

9) Zara Larsson – Lush Life

This song may not have been released in the UK yet but it’s been dominating the airwaves in Europe, becoming the most played song of the summer in Sweden this year. “Lush Life” is “Rude Boy” mark two, paired with a similarly colourful video and a handful of hooks for good measure. Seriously, there’s like a million of them. Once it’s got you, you’ll be living the lush life forever.

8) Adele – When We Were Young

If anyone doubted that Adele is still firmly in possession of that “Someone Like You”magic I present to you “When We Were Young”. Only Adele could manage to get nostalgic about experiences she hasn’t had yet. In this soulful, ballad she imagines herself at a party in the far future surrounded by her friends and remembering all the good and bad times they shared. It’s like the prologue to “Wings” by Birdy.

7) Taylor Swift – Style

“Style”, Swift’s ode to being young and beautiful forever, is directly opposed to Adele’s “When We Were Young”. While the British singer willingly accepts her mortality and looks forward to her latter days, Swift’s foot is firmly planted in the present and her heyday. But she is self-aware enough to know that the love story between her and Harry Styles’ (about whom the song was supposedly written) was one which has been repeated throughout history. Good girls and bad boys will never go out of style. 

6) Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

Only a truly amazing song could have saved Bieber’s floundering career at this point but sadly/luckily that’s exactly what he managed to produce. Such is the brilliance of the tropical house influenced “What Do You Mean?” that it even managed to convert true non-Beliebers like me. I surrender.

5) Adele – Hello

The perfect comeback single with the perfect title. Adele gave us a little hello this autumn and the world went into meltdown. “Hello” instantly went to number one all over the globe smashing records in its wake, fueling the astronomical success of its parent album 25. All we can do is exalt.

4) Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

2015 was the year of grey. Fifty shades of it to be precise and “Love Me Like You Do” was as much part of the success of that mother-of-all-unguilty-pleasures film as Jamie Dornan’s chiseled face. It’s essentially a modern take on a traditional power ballad – the 2010s equivalent of a Celine Dion ballad if you will. All the ingredients come together beautifully to create a true pop masterpiece with Ellie’s celestial vocals being the ideal instrument to lend the song the mystique it needed to reach the rafters.

3) Major Lazer Feat. DJ Snake and MØ – Lean On

A little bit of cultural appropriation can go a long way as it did in 2015 with Major Lazer’s breakthrough single “Lean On”. The Indian themed dancing in the video created an internet frenzy and had millions of people around the globe changing their lightbulbs and feeling their inner Bollywood. Funnily enough, the chance to record vocals for the song was first offered to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both turned it down, before eventually Danish singer  landed the gig. Guess their loss is her gain. All I can say is that RiRi’s Anti better be bloomin’ fantastic if this is the type of material she’s turning down.

2) Kygo Feat. Conrad – Firestone 

Anyone who went to a festival this summer will know the power of “Firestone”. Having already found mainstream success with remixes such as “Sexual Healing” and “I See Fire” previously underground DJ Kygo finally decided to unleash original music on the world in 2015 and the world went mad. I went to Ultra Festival, Croatia this summer with a massive group of friends and “Firestone” epitomized those epic, hands-in-the-air moments when everyone loved each other and world peace was achievable. Please let me live in those moments forever

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You can also listen to The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist on Spotify:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

 

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

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 Top 20 Songs of 2015 So Far – The Conclusion

The final part of my 2015 countdown of the best songs from January until June:

20) Skrillex Feat. Diplo and Justin Bieber – Where are U Now

“Where Are U Now” is without a doubt one of the least likely collaborations ever but just serves to show that anyone is redeemable, even the notoriously annoying Bieber. It’s is definitely one of the most interesting songs released this year and for that we have to give some kudos to the Canadian popstar, even though I suspect it has more to do with Diplo…

19) Olly Murs Feat. Demi Lovato – Up

olly murs demi lovato up

I really don’t know how Olly Murs does it. By all rights he should be washed up by now like so many X Factor contestants who got a bit of success after the show and then realised it wasn’t a lifetime gig (Shayne Ward, Alexandra Burke, JLS, Cher Lloyd….poor things). But somehow he has managed to keep plugging away producing chart topping albums and quality singles. His story has been one of quiet success, rather than the furore surrounding One Direction right now or Leona Lewis when she first came out. And that, my friends, is the secret to longevity. “Up” is the second single from Murs fourth (already??!!!) album Never Been Better and, seeing as the hits keep coming, it does really seem that the only way is up.

18) Madonna – Ghosttown

ghosttown madonna

Another quality Madonna single doomed to fade into obscurity due to the disaster that has been the Rebel Heart era. Madonna’s vocals have never sounded better or more emotive than on “Ghosttown”. It has even drawn comparisons with the legendary vocalist Karen Carpenter. It’s just a shame that it failed to make an impact on the UK or US singles charts. A lot of crap does. The video for “Ghosttown” had the right idea but Madge definitely went a bit too far with the melodrama, rendering it practically unwatchable. Sigh…

17) Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth – See You Again

wiz khalifa charlie puth see you again

It’s songs like this and Pharrell’s “Happy” that make me wish that radio didn’t exist. Every time I hear this song on the radio now I have to switch it off which is a massive shame because, actually, I remember hearing this song for the first time and liking it a lot. It’s just radio has used and abused this single which has made it impossible for me to place it higher on my list. It’s also a wee bit overrated. It’s a good song but not good enough to be No.1 for weeks and weeks and weeks. “Uptown Funk” was that good. Still, it remains a lovely blend of soulful vocal matched perfectly with gritty rap lyrics. Gotta take the rough with the smooth.

16) Taylor Swift Feat. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

taylor swift kendrick lamar bad blood

Swift’s star-studded video for “Bad Blood” not only proved her celeb pulling power, but also ensured her another smash single off her already classic fifth album 1989. The remixed version featuring Kendrick Lamar improves the original’s production and adds some killer rap sections. The result is a brutal, stadium-ready war cry which features some of Swfit’s best lyrics to date. “Band aids don’t fix bullet holes”. Indeed.

15) Tove Lo – Talking Body

tove lo talking body queen of the clouds

This is just one of those songs that makes you feel all dirty and sexy. Tove had already established as a force to be reckoned with, producing the global smash “Stay High (Habits)” last year and lending vocals to Alesso’s “Heroes”, but “Talking Body” was her make or break single. And boy did it make. It’s reminiscent of Rihanna at her best in that both singers surround themselves with a dark, brooding persona of party girl gone wild. Tove’s ascendance to the clouds has already begun.

14) Echosmith – Cool Kids

cool kids echosmith

Sorry Americans, you may be wondering why this song is included in a best of list from 2015 and not 2014, well it’s because this song hit the UK a bit late I’m afraid. We only just got it at the start of this year but we love it a lot too so I had to include it on this list. For me, the magic of “Cool Kids” special quality lies in the fact that it takes you back to high school (unless you’re still there) where you were insecure and just wishing to be someone else. It taps into those old feelings which is a powerful feat for a little ditty about being cool. The melody is also tremendously catchy with some interesting instrumental choices. Does the lead singer’s voice sound a bit like Katy Perry to anyone else or is it just me? And she looks a bit like Anna Kendrick.

13) Calvin Harris Feat. HAIM – Pray to God

haim calvin harris pray to god

No-one seems to love this song as much as I do so I compromised and put it further down the list than I would have it. Please guys tell me why this was not a worldwide smash? The HAIM sisters are devilishly delicious as satanic enchantresses in the striking video. This is without a doubt one of Harris’ most satisfying drops and the sister’s to-die-for harmonies are reminiscent of Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame. What’s not to like? Maybe I’m just partial to a good bit of witchiness.

12) James Bay – Hold Back the River

james bay hold back the river

James Bay has timed his ascendance to pop stardom to perfection. Just as last year’s golden boys Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra were winding up their album campaigns he decided to launch into the pop-o-sphere. Flooding the radio waves “Hold Back the River” is a masterclass in understated, contemplative pop. From the quiet, restrained beginning “River” builds and builds with the drama of a Celine Dion power ballad (but with much more attitude) until it becomes a powerful maelstrom of emotional turmoil. James Bay conveys such emotion with his voice that you cannot help but be moved.

11) Taylor Swift – Style

taylor swift style song

Taylor Swift is just a goddess. She has cemented her place as the top female in music right now with her current album 1989 which is full to the brim with genius hooks and playful lyrics. “Style” is one of the more superior cuts of this already superior album. It may have failed to match the success of the Billboard number ones “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood”, only peaking at No.6 in the US, but it is just as good as any of them. It’s more subtle and less in your face, which means that it takes longer to grow on you but, when it does, it never goes out of your head.

10) Sia – Elastic Heart

elastic heart sia shia le boeuf

I had all but given up on Sia releasing another single from 1000 Forms of Fear. It seemed that she forgotten about the album after the release of “Chandelier”, despite the single’s overwhelming success. But lo and behold the unpredictable, fame-shy Sia dropped a bomb of a video on us early in 2015!

Sia is the whole package, even if she doesn’t know it. She’s got the knack for writing intelligent, sensitive lyrics and to inspire without being cheesy. It’s the vulnerability, combined with the powerful vocal that really . It seems at points that her voice is cracking, but then it soars. She is truly one of the great vocalists of our time and when the production quality matches the quality of her songwriting and voice, she is unstoppable. And Shia LeBeuf…What was that all about?

9) Galantis – Runaway (U & I)

galantis runaway u and I

Galantis are one of those bands that have been hanging around on the periphery for a while on the cusp of stardom, searching for that big breakthrough hit. Well, they sure found that. “Runaway” is bold, brash and in your face. It’s no wonder it’s been making massive waves in the UK, where it has already peaked in the top 5. Released just in time for festival season, this is definitely one you’ll be hearing all summer.

8) Kygo Feat. Parson James – Stole the Show

kygo parson james stole the show

Kygo is fast becoming one of the premier DJs in the world and a lot of the praise should be heaped upon this stellar collab between the Norwegian and singer Parson James. Anything with panpipes is just guaranteed to win me over but when it also has a drop like this and passionate lyrics there is literally no escape. There is something ethereal and even sad about the track. It’s another big hit for the unstoppable Norwegian.

7) Years and Years – King

years and years king

Dance floor ready and box fresh Years and Years are one of the biggest revelations of 2015. Despite achieving chart success with previous single “Desire”, it was “King” which proved to be their big breakthrough, peaking at No.1 in the UK in its debut week and selling over 100,000 copies. The effortless, soaring vocals are definitely enough to capture your attention but it’s the nuanced production that really makes “King” a winner.

6) Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

hold my hand jess glynne i cry when i laugh

Not satisfied with her two previous number one singles with Route 94 and Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne concocted a formula to invade our brains all by herself this time. Just as Meghan Trainor is all about the bass, Glynne’s “Hold My Hand” is all about the voice which she uses to great effect on the track. Each line of the verses starts goes from low to high which Glynne navigates deftly and with joyous aplomb. This is her vocal tour de force and her muscled voice is the star of the show. Anticipation could not be higher for her debut album coming out in August I Cry When I Laugh.

5) Omi – Cheerleader

omi felix jaehn cheerleader

Here’s a piece of advice for every wannabe popstar out there. If you ever want to have a sure fire hit in 2015 just add a bit of trumpet or sax to your track on a loop and bobs your uncle. You have a hit on your hands. I’ve seen it time and time again with Cheryl’s “Crazy Stupid Love” and Faul’s “Changes” to name but a few! Poised to one of the biggest tunes of the year, the bright and breezy “Cheerleader” is a breath of fresh air and one to be turned up to the max while riding in a drop top down an endless road with your friends.

4) Alesso Feat. Tove Lo – Heroes

tove lo alesso heroes

Alesso’s remake of David Bowie’s now classic “Heroes” may have stripped the original of all its pithy irony, but it more than makes up for it with its uplifting message pushed to infinity by Tove Lo’s soaring vocals. The song emanates a pure and beautifully exuberant naivety together with an youthful innocence. This is one for the festivals and I can see 100,000 “heroes” bouncing up and down in harmony all summer long.

3) Major Lazer Feat. DJ Snake and MO – Lean On

major lazer dj snake mo lean on

This has already been one of the biggest songs of the summer, nay of the year. It has taken over the UK completely and mercilessly, monopolising radio play and peaking at No.2. It is also fast scaling the US charts, nestling nicely into the top 10 already. Why you ask? Well it’s because by fusing reggae and dance music Major Lazer has created a completely unique sound which has struck a chord all around the world and has turned into a formidable epidemic. It was played about 500 times at Ultra Europe festival this year.

2) Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

 

Ellie Goulding has gone from strength to strength ever since her debut single “Starry Eyed” introduced us to her ethereal, magical voice. Time and time again she has proved herself to be capable of musical greatness, even managing to conquer the American market, which is no mean feat for British artists. Unlike some of her contemporaries, Goulding deftly avoids pandering to the sex crazed teen market who above all else crave flesh shows (Rihanna, Shakira, Tove Lo etc.). Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with this. Everyone loves a bit of Shakira. But it’s just not Ellie’s style that’s all. On the whole, it’s probably a smart move. Goulding clearly has her sights set on career longevity and she is definitely going the right way about it. Her brand of mystical, vulnerable pop falls somewhere manages to appeal to everyone which is exactly what makes her one of the biggest popstars on the planet right now. “Love Me Like You Do” came out of the blue at the beginning of this year and immediately shot to the top of the UK single charts, retaining this positions for a massive 4 weeks and becoming a constant fixture on mainstream radio. Of course, the song’s place in the 50 Shades of Grey film soundtrack did nothing to harm its commercial appeal, but it definitely would have been a big hit either way. Ellie is a force of nature.

1) Kygo Feat. Conrad – Firestone

kygo conrad firestone

I remember there was a time when dance music did nothing for me. Good for a quick sweaty dance but it left me feeling cold afterwards (literally and physically!). The sentiments just weren’t there like in a good emotional pop song (Whitney and Mariah come to mind). But over the past five years dance music has had an injection of life. Somewhere along the line dance music got its soul back and nowhere is this more present than on Kygo’s recent smash “Firestone”. I had liked Kygo for a while before “Firestone”, which is, to all intents and purposes, his debut single, but by far from his first production. He has a chilled out style which stands out amongst the David Guettas and Afrojacks. “Firestone” was the moment when Kygo went from an underground artist to the next biggest thing. There’s something magical about the feather-light piano line and breezy vocals provided by Australian singer Conrad Sewell. Everything is just effortlessly comes together to create a truly inspirational, beautiful song.

Thank you for reading and feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. I love hearing from you!