Girls Gone Wild

These red blooded women can’t keep their hands to themselves.

They say sex sells. Well sometimes you’ve just gotta give the crowd what they want which is exactly what these sexy sirens decided to do, producing some of the most eye-wateringly intimate and downright debaucherous come-hithers known to man. To celebrate the end of a cold and wet January I have whipped up this hot n’ heavy playlist which I have designed to be a non-stop sex fest. So expect some sultry hyperventilating, suggestive subtext and outright filth bound together with some of the dirtiest basslines around. It’s Britney-approved:

 

 

I’ve picked out some of the highlights from the playlist which deserve a bit of further attention. No nuns allowed:

Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk

The perfect way to start off a steamy night in is with a cheeky bit of dirty talk. “I wanna do some dirty things to you tonight”. Ooh err! On “Dirty Talk” Wynter Gordon makes no apologies for loving sex, spending half the time naming all her favourite positions and toys. This is a song which wears it’s heart on its sleeve and celebrates everything naughty.

Further reading on How to Dirty Talk:

http://www.sexcigarsbooze.com/2010/06/how-to-talk-dirty-50-examples-that-will-make-you-blush/

Selena Gomez – Hands to Myself

No more Miss Nice Girl. The former-Disney star has lived through the drought of “A Year Without Rain” and has grown sick of waiting for her man to “Come and Get It”. On the provocative “Hands to Myself” Gomez is the wide-eyed ingenue no more, exploring the dangerous side of obsession and discovering how good it feels to be bad.

It’s feels very good apparently

Britney Spears – Gimme More

“It’s Britney Bitch”. What sexy playlist would be complete without a smidgen of Kinkney? There were so many tracks to choose from but I settled on the carnal “Gimme More” because of the way it strips sex back to its purest form. The track and video (in which the former-child star appears as a Stripney) have a raw, unfinished quality which suggests a primal, animalistic attitude towards sex. “Gimme More” also harks back to the Darkney days of 2007 when she had a trip to the barbers and came back 10 pounds lighter.

Madonna – Girl Gone Wild

“Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee
And I detest all my sins
Because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pain of hell.
But most of all because I love Thee,
And I want so badly to be good”

Some say that religion and sex are natural enemies. Not Madonna. She has forged a career of disproving this theory. After a relatively quiet period for the Queen of Pop in terms of church-bashing , she returned in style with the devilish “Girl Gone Wild”, which was released in 2012 as the second single from Madonna’s twefth studio album MDMA. It remains on of Madge’s most underappreciated dance-pop tracks and the lusts of the flesh video with Ukrainian men dancing in heels one of her most striking visuals to date. I defy you not to feel a little bit naughty after listening to “Girl Gone Wild”.

Rihanna – S&M

“Feels so good being bad”. Amen to that! Rihanna’s music had always been sexually charged but the electropop kink-fest “S&M” took it to a whole new level of nasty. On the track, which was released as the third single from her fifth album Loud, Rihanna morphs into a wanton sexbot with heavily processed vocals and a high energy club beat.

Something like this….

Moreover, in the “S&M” video Rihanna manages to do humanity the big favour of putting Perez Hilton on a leash. If only she’d left him there…

Also, “S&M” is credited with uniting two of the sexiest gals in the biz for a sexy pillow fight in this outrageously showstopping performance featuring the one and only Britney bitch!

Lady GaGa Feat. R Kelly – Do What U Want

GaGa’s ARTPOP era may have been a complete shambles but die-hard fans managed to salvage this salacious collab from the wreckage. Synthpop jam “Do What U Want” boasts one of the skankiest basslines of all time and some powerhouse vocals from GaGa and R Kelly. It never did get an official video but we were treated to this White House themed performance at the AMA awards 2013:

Janet Jackson – All Nite (Don’t Stop)

We always knew that Janet liked her bass down low but “All Nite (Don’t Stop)” took it to a whole new level of delicious depravity with a combination of seductive moans and a dirty funk bass guitar line. The hot and heavy “All Nite” underperformed on the charts after it was blacklisted in the US in the wake of controversial Superbowl Halftime show incident but it never fails to get me moving.

Also, it turns out that Nipplegate was pretty important moment in history with the Guinness Book of World Records naming Nipplegate the “most searched item in Internet history.”

Also, apparently the incident inspired YouTube to be created in 2005:

“A young software programmer at PayPal named Jawed Karim is unable to find any video of the Jackson Super Bowl performance online. Frustrated in his attempts to find footage, Karim and some friends create a venue where people can easily upload and share video. Thanks to the scandal, YouTube is born in 2005. A year later, Google purchases the site for $1.65 billion”.

Further reading: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/nipple-ripples-10-years-of-fallout-from-janet-jacksons-halftime-show-20140130#ixzz3yrI2PqLc

Sugababes – Freak Like Me

After the departure of founding member Siobhan Donaghy the Sugababes made a triumphant return in 2002 with freshly-ground vocals and a no-nonsense new attitude. Richard X-produce electrofest “Freak Like Me” shows the babes as seductive vampires ensnaring their prey and biting their way through the male population with gleeful abandon.

Disclaimer: no men were harmed in the making of the video.

Kylie Minogue – Red Blooded Woman

Coming off the back of her commercial smash album Fever Kylie decided to sex it up even more on her next record with the freaky “Red Blooded Woman”. The racy video sees the saucy siren caught in a traffic jam and dancing on a lorry. I just want to make Kylie aware that if it all goes south from now on she is more than welcome to entertain people by grinding on automobiles during gridlocks.

Kelis Feat. Nas – In Public

‘I’ll make your toes curl up and make your body scream” saved the naughtiest track on the list to last and, trust me, this one would make even the most oversexed teen raise their eyebrows. Kelis doesn’t hold back with expressing her fantasies on the almost too indecent “In Public”. The  Nas comes along and somehow manages to out-filth Kelis with his X-rated rap.

Hope that left you feeling hot under the collar and there’s plenty more to enjoy on the Girls Gone Wild Spotify Playlist. Thanks for reading and please feel free to share, like and comment. May the filth be with you.

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The Best Songs of the 00s – Uptempo

The noughties were the golden era of pop. The Spice Girls, Steps and various other manufactured groups enjoyed a streak of success with loud and proud pop hits in the late nineties which helped pave the way for unabashedly fun and increasingly ridiculous pop acts who were not afraid to use everything at their disposal to bag themselves a hit. In short, pop went through a pretentiousness liberation.

Suddenly everyone loved pop and it almost exclusively dominated the charts. Today’s charts are a lot more diverse which is, of course, a very good thing. However, for the most part pop itself has severely lost its way amid a sea of singer/songwriters who are too concerned with being “a serious artist” to have any fun. The essence of pop is to entertain and I believe that this has been largely forgotten. So for that reason I will always look back to the turn of the century to experience pop in its purest form served the way god intended (with a bucketload of  cheese). So therefore I have decided to compile a list of the Best Songs of the Noughties which I have divided into two categories: Uptempo and Ballads.  Why you ask? Well because it was like picking between two of your children and since I am a mere mortal I couldn’t trim down the list any further. All the songs mentioned in both lists have ingrained themselves so deep into my subconscious that they play a role in my everyday life however sad that may seem (it will explain this later). The first part of the list contains all the uptempo tunes so get ready to party like it was 1999 a few years ago. Here’sa couple of observations I made while creating the list:

  1. There are a lot of good girls gone bad. This really became a pop phenomenon in the noughties with various pop stars going from nice to naughty.
  2. There is an unsurprisingly large amount of Spice Girls-inspired girl power going around (hangover from the nineties).
  3. Most of the top ten songs have hooks which consist of repeating a random syllables which means absolutely nothing at all. So expect a glut of las, a cacophony of ohs and a sprinkling of muh-muh-muh-mah. The conclusion that I’m drawing from this is that human beings are at heart simple creatures and, when it all boils down, we like our ear worms bitesize and easily digestible (i.e. they don’t require too much thought or indeed any  at all!)

So let’s get down to business:

 

20) Jennifer Lopez – Jenny From the Block

Back in her heyday at the turn of the century Jennifer Lopez was one of the most prolific hit makers around. But by 2003 the media has pigeonholed J-Lo as a materialistic diva who basked in the limelight while parading around in Bentleys wearing mink fur coats. “Jenny From the Block” was her less-than-subtle declaration that she was still the same down to earth girl from the Bronx in spite of her fame and fortune.

19) Liberty X – Just a Little

Back in the days when Reality TV was box fresh and even predating Pop Idol there was a little show called Popstars which documented individuals auditioning for a spot in a new pop band. When the groups were formed the series was eventually won by Hear’Say with the group who finished second, Liberty X, cruelly being labelled flopstars. No one really expected much from Liberty X and, despite scoring two top 20 hits, they never managed to shake the stigma of being losers. That is, until “Just A Little”. It was essentially their last chance and, for that reason, the band literally threw everything and the kitchen sink at the song and music video. Cue more PVC than a Catwoman convention and some spectacularly camp dancing with canes. To this day, every time I come across a cane or even stick I still do the “Just a Little” dance and I also have to follow the word sexy with “everything about you is so sexyyyyy”. This is the effect of good pop. “Just a Little” went straight to number one in the UK and finished as the 7th best selling single in the UK for 2002. What’s more, it went on to win a Brit Award for Best British Single at the 2003 ceremony. Who’s a flopstar now!?!

18) Christina Aguilera Feat. Redman- Dirrty 

The original good girl gone bad before Miley, Rihanna and Selena all jumped on the bandwagon. Having already attained massive success with her eponymous debut album Christina Aguilera decided a change of tack was in order for her second studio effort. Keen to shed her bubblegum pop image Aguilera decided to literally get down and dirty for her comeback single, dubbing herself Xtina and gyrating in a pair of ass-less chaps in what is one of the sexiest and most iconic videos of the 21st century. While Xtina did manage to bag herself a UK No.1 single and worldwide top ten with “Dirrty”, the track bombed in the more conservative US market where it charted at a lowly 48. It’s important to recognise however that, despite initial negativity towards “Dirrty” in the US, it is now considered as one of Christina’s signature songs and it undeniably set the precedent for many other popstars in the latter half of the decade who pulled off dramatic image overhauls.

17) Kelis – Milkshake

“La-la-la-la-la the boys are waiting”. In this post-Pharrell revival world, “Milkshake” shines bright as one of his best production credits to date, proving that he has always loved his cowbells. In 2004 Kelis wasn’t really on many people’s radar, despite several critically acclaimed albums, “Milkshake” is the track which put her on the map. This can be definitively measured by the fact that “Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” has now entered pop culture as a perfectly acceptable way of describing someone’s sex appeal. It’s without a doubt one of the more creative metaphors for sex out there. One thing is certain, after Kelis the world never looked at a milkshake the same way again. “Milkshake” was released as the lead single from her third album Tasty and charted strongly across the world, becoming one of the best-selling singles of 2004.

16) Mary J Blige – Family Affair

Mary J Blige experienced something of a career renaissance in the summer of 2001 with her fifth album No More Drama. Despite maintaining a very respectable level of success in the US, interest had begun to wane internationally, that is, until she hollered “let’s get drunk cos Mary’s baaaaack!” and the world was never the same. The Dr.Dre-produced “Family Affair” helped her to finally fulfil her commercial potential, becoming her only US No.1 single and finishing the decade as the 12th best-selling single in the US . As if that weren’t enough, with “Family Affair” Mary J can be certain in the fact that she is the only person ever to write a song containing the words “percolatin”, “hateration” and “holleratin”. Mostly because only one of those is an actual word.

15) Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground

After the success of the Popstars Reality TV show, ITV commissioned another season with added influence from the wildly successful Pop Idol formula. The result? A rebranding as Popstars: The Rivals with not just one winning group but separate boyband and girlband being crowned. So it ended up as a good old fashioned girls v. boys with the groups’ debut singles simultaneously released to compete head to head for the coveted Christmas Number One position on the UK singles chart. One band was doomed to failure and the other was destined for eternal glory. The girls definitively won this round with their surprisingly gritty “Sound of the Underground” taking poll position with 213,000 copies sold while the boys’ limp track “Sacred Trust” charted at No.2 with sales of 147,000. This kick-started Girls Aloud’s career and they went on to best-selling girlband of the 21st century in the UK.

14) Avril Lavigne – Complicated

Dude you wanna crash the mall? After being signed to the prestigious Arista Record Label sk8er girl Avril spent several years struggling to find her sound until she stumbled across “Complicated” which perfectly summed up this teenage punk rocker’s attitude towards life. This is still my go-to jam when times get rough. Talk me down Avril! Talk me down! In an expert marketing move, Avril was presented as the cooler alternative to Britney, shining like a little punk beacon among the sugary sweet pop princesses of the time. As a consequence “Complicated” got her career off to a flying start, charting top ten worldwide and helping her debut album Let Go sell shed loads.

13) MIKA – Grace Kelly

“I wanna talk to you!” Effervescent British singer MIKA’s debut single “Grace Kelly” boasts some of the best spoken word lines in any song ever interspersed throughout the track like confetti. “Humphry! We’re leaving!” Inspired by his record label telling him to be more like Craig David, MIKA wrote this ironic masterpiece as a declaration that originality is best and generously introduced us to his glass-shattering falsetto which he slips in and out of like a knife through butter. “Grace Kelly” was a sure fire hit and formed the basis of a career which is still going strong today.

12) Nelly Furtado – Maneater

“You wish you’d never ever met her at all”. Are you kidding me! The world went wild when the new and improved Nelly Furtado was revealed complete with one of the dirtiest beats known to man which is still guaranteed to have you skankin’ around like a proper good girl gone bad. Indeed, It was such a dramatic transformation for Furtado, who had previously rocked a hippie-chic vibe with earthy tunes like “Powerless” and “I’m Like a Bird”, that it attracted accusations of “selling out”. One thing is for undeniable however, the sales boost which the Canadian singer’s image overhaul provoked will keep her and her daughter in poutine for many years to come.

11) Destiny’s Child – Independent Women Pt. 1

To this day if someone says the word “question”, I immediately reply by saying “tell me what you think about me”. That’s when you know you have created pop art (or artpop as Lady GaGa would say). Written for the group’s third studio album Survivor “Independent Women” was included on the soundtrack for the 2000 film adaptation of Charlie’s Angels. The song was met with huge critical and commercial success, spending 11 consecutive weeks atop the US Billboard Charts and giving the band their first No.1 single in the UK, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the process. This means that a whole host of people are able to smugly quote the girls themselves in saying “I bought it”, which is possibly the most capitalist message of all time. Jokes aside, “Independent Women” still remains one of the purest and most influential female empowerment jams this side of the millennium boasting girl power to rival even the Spice Girls.

10) S Club 7 – Don’t Stop Movin’

Who could dislike S Club 7? For me, they represent the height of bubblegum pop which blew up around the millennium. They were literally a phenomenon and the true successors of the Spice Girls in terms of branding and style. All 11 of their official singles peaked top 5 in the UK, including 4 number ones and 5 number twos. The disco-inspired, string-laden “Don’t Stop Movin’” became one of the band’s biggest hits upon release in 2001, reaching number one on two separate occasions in the UK. The spectacularly retro track samples “Billie Jean” in the verses which makes it immediately familiar to any listener and, probably for that reason, it remains the band’s highest selling single in their home country.

9) Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Murder on the Dancefloor

Riding off the back of her wildly successful Spiller collaboration and the top two smash Cher-cover “Take Me Home” relative pop newbie Sophie Ellis-Bextor burnt the house right down with her now signature song “Murder on the Dancefloor” at the beginning of the decade. The London-born belle took out the competition just like she did in the dance contest-themed video with this finger-snapping tune which went on to become the most played song of 2002 in Europe.

8) Britney Spears – Oops…I Did It Again!

Can any child of the nineties say to me with an honest heart that when anyone says the word “oops” you don’t immediately hear “I did it again”? Be honest…I thought not. It was never really going to happen but Britney could have potentially been a one album wonder if it weren’t for this irresistible pop gem which saw the still 18 year old Britney shedding her innocent schoolgirl label and simultaneously boosting the sales of red latex catsuits. “Aww you shouldn’t have…”

7) Lady GaGa – Poker Face

A song which boasts not only one monosyllabic repetition, but two! “Muh-muh-muh-maaah” and “puh-puh-puh poker face” had us all “bluffin’ with our muffins” back in 2009 to the sound of this bisexuality themed robopop song about cockteasing. “Poker Face” always transports me right back to when Lady Gaga was literally unstoppable and everything she touched turned to gold i.e the good old days before she went a bit far with the whole “I’m an artsy kook” schtick. Upon release “Poker Face” became GaGa’s second number one single after “Just Dance”, making her the first person to debut at No.1 with their first two singles in the US since Christina Aguilera a decade previously. Seems that GaGa played her cards just right.

6) Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Although it’s hard to imagine anyone but Kylie Minogue singing “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, in fact it was originally written for bubblegum pop band S Club 7 and later rejected by Sophie Ellis-Bextor for her debut album. “La-la-la” just didn’t seem to work for them. But pop adores sloppy seconds and Kylie, who after making a successful comeback with “Spinning Around” in 2000 was back on top of her game and ready to reconquer the world, saw potential in the fledgling electropop genre. Needless to say, upon release “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” became her biggest hit to date, driven by the hyper sexy video which shows Minogue sporting several risqué outfits, including one which shows some major side-boob. The innovative nature of the song and video sent it soaring to No.1 all over Europe and even helped Kylie break into the notoriously difficult-to-crack US market.

5) Shakira – Whenever Wherever

When Shakira burst out of the ocean in the now iconic “Whenever Wherever” video, the world titled on its axis a little. Pre-“Whenever Wherever” the Colombiana had already broken the Latino market, scoring a No.1 Billboard Latin album with ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? but she wanted to make waves in the English speaking world, despite having barely written in English before. To think, if Shakira had just decided to rest on her laurels we might never have had lines such as “lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains”. In fact, come to think of it we DEFINITELY wouldn’t have had that line. “Whenever Wherever” boasts a universal message of love and devotion as well as the best use of panpipes ever in pop which is probably the reason why it became the biggest worldwide hit of 2001. It’s curious that Shakira had never really done much hip shaking in her previous Spanish-language work but that’s what she became known for everywhere else in the world. Well, that and “ne-lo-lo-le-lo-le-lo-le”

4) Rihanna Feat. Jay Z – Umbrella

You can’t win ‘em all (unless you’re Charlie Sheen). This is a lesson which Britney Spears and Mary J Blige had to learn the hard way when they passed on the now ubiquitous “Umbrella”. Spears’ record label outright rejected the song before the pop diva even got a look in and Mary J was too busy to record it, which meant that Rihanna got the chance to cash in on this mammoth hit. The Barbadian had already scored a Billboard number one single with “SOS” and had enjoyed various other hit singles but it was “Umbrella” which made her a household name. In a Pavolv’s dogs-esque trained reaction, this song unfailingly plays in my head every time I see an umbrella, hear or say the word “umbrella” or indeed upon use of the item in question. I’ve been trying to figure out what makes the song so compelling and I think it has something to do with the contrast between Rihanna’s disconnected, deadpan delivery and the meaningful lyrics. Either way, it sure made it rain on the UK singles chart in 2007, reigning for a massive 10 weeks during one of the wettest summers on record. We were all clamouring to stand under her umbrella “ella-ella-eh” that year. As pathetic fallacy would have it, as soon as “Umbrella” was knocked off the top spot the rain promptly stopped. The universe can be kind of creepy sometimes.

3) Beyoncé Feat. Jay Z – Crazy in Love

To think we ever questioned that Beyonce could make it on her own without her Destiny’s Child galpals! The thought seems laughable now considering her success over the last 14 years but that’s exactly what we did before this fiercely independent woman scored her first international solo number one with the bold, brash “Crazy in Love”. Beyonce had scored a few hits previously but she was in need of a big smash if she was going to forge a respectable career outside of the confines of Destiny’s Child. The retro horn-laden sound of “Crazy in Love” initially divided opinions in Queen B’s camp but it’s the diva’s confident and assertive vocal delivery which steals the show. Combine that with an “uh-oh, uh-oh, you know” hook and a killer rap from Jay Z and there was no stopping us falling in love with Beyoncé.

2) Shakira Feat. Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie

All the haters who ever questioned whether hips lie were silenced forever when Shakira made one of the most spectacular career saves in music history. Way back in 2005 things were looking pretty grim for the Colombian beauty when the lead single from her second studio album “Don’t Bother” had slightly flopped her album Oral Fixation Vol. 2 sunk like a stone (at least in comparison to her previous studio set Laundry Service). Shakira’s career outside of the Spanish speaking world was seriously under threat of extinction until she hooked up with Haitan rapper Wyclef Jean for this floor filling, showstopper of a track. Originally titled “Lips Don’t Lie”, Jean had written the song specifically for the Fugees comeback but when the song was met with disapproval by Lauryn Hill he decided to give the song to Shakira who, drawing on all her many assets to make one of the most fun and vibrant music videos ever, sent the song to the top of the charts in 55 countries.

1) Britney Spears – Toxic

This Kylie Minogue reject is one of the most shining examples of how innovative pop can be when it is done right both in terms of song quality and music video creativity. The Bollywood style strings ooze drama which, combined with the international intrigue of the video, allows Spears’ to metamorphose into the female James Bond. Released around the time of Janet Jackson’s infamous Superbowl wardrobe malfunction, MTV made the decision to only show this risqué video after the evening watershed. A bit of an overreaction perhaps but, then again, Britney does writhe around in a diamond encrusted body sock for most of the video.  In spite of everything however, critical reactions were overwhelmingly positive and “Toxic” earned Britney her first Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Some pop has a limited shelf life but now, more than 12 years later “Toxic” is just as much of a stone cold jam as it was when Spears first donned that suggestive air hostess garb (pointy shoulder pads alert!) and, to this day, every time I use a landline phone or travel on an airplane my heart is crying out to pick up the receiver and purr “Baby can’t you see I’m calling!”

Agree with my choices? Think I’ve missed something out? Whatever the case I would love to hear what you think! Please put the comment box below to good use as that’s what it’s there for! Also, please like and share and if you want to listen to any of the songs mentioned in this blog I have provided a handy Spotify playlist below. Good pop just makes me so generous 🙂

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:2Tk3xzVxOPN4jG8lH7TNkK

The Best Songs of 2014: 80 – 61

80) Calvin Harris – Summer

“Summer” definitely managed to do what it said on the tin. Despite Harris’ whiney, slightly irritating vocals, it became a massive summer smash for the unstoppable DJ and his 6th UK chart topper. I’m sure the enormous EDM drop had a little something to do with that. Peaking at No.7, “Summer” also became Harris’ highest peaking single in the US, outstripping the previous effort of “Sweet Nothing” which reached No.10 in 2012.

79) Jungle – Busy Earnin’

Modern soul band Jungle are one of the revelations of 2014. They have managed to maintain their anonymity and mystique while becoming one of the biggest crossover bands of this year. Their self-titled debut album went straight into the UK top ten and was also nominated for the Mercury Prize. “Busy Earnin’”, a funk-infused jam about concentrating on the more important things in life, is undoubtedly a highlight from the album and plays off 2014’s love affair with brass.

78) OneRepublic – Love Runs Out

Riding off the success of their 2013 mega-smash “Counting Stars”, OneRepublic have managed to continue their winning streak throughout 2014. “Love Runs Out” was released as the lead single from the 2014 reissue of their third album Native and became a transatlantic smash hit, peaking top 15 in the US and top 3 in the UK. The stomping, piano-led beat was undoubtedly one of the most infectious and invigorating of 2014.

77) La Roux – Kiss and Not Tell

Released as the second single from the group’s second album Trouble in Paradise “Kiss and Not Tell” is a peppy, synth-pop jam about ignoring the problems in a relationship. The light and breezy feel of the track is offset by the darker lyrical themes resulting in the perfect contrast.

76) Iggy Azalea Feat. Rita Ora – Black Widow

“Black Widow” is essentially “Dark Horse” part 2. Both were written by Katy Perry and boast a trap-influenced sound. However, “Black Widow” opts for ominous steel drums to give the track a more relaxed, even exotic feel. Released as the follow up to the enormously successful “Fancy” and “Problem”, “Black Widow” became Iggy’s third consecutive top 3 US single and gave Rita Ora her first top ten Billboard single.

75) Kelis – Jerk Ribs

For those with a taste for soul food, “Jerk Ribs” was 2014’s ultimate tasty dish served up by a very underrated star at the peak of her creativity with a side of smokey vocals and brass. After pioneering the EDM revolution with her relentlessly sweaty Flesh Tone album in 2010, Kelis decided to take some time off in between projects to take a cooking course. Now as a certified Cordon Bleu chef Kelis channels her love for food into her music, even naming her songs after her favourite dishes. “Jerk Ribs” has a peppery freshness that makes it stand out as one of the star platters of the year.

74) DJ Snake Feat. Lil’ John – Turn Down for What

Few songs can claim that they coined a brand new phrase but “Turn Down for What” certainly did that and more in 2014. The squeaky, trap influenced hook was practically inescapable for the first part of the year and soon became the soundtrack for the dissident youth who gleefully break the rules and defy all those around them. It’s hard not to get pulled in by the craziness of it all and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to bop your head just a little.

73) Charli XCX – Boom Clap

Including one of your songs on a film soundtrack has become one of the most reliable ways of opening your music up to new audiences in recent years. Of course, when compared to other film love themes such as “A Thousand Years” or “Evergreen”, Charli XCX’s more raucous offering seems very out of place, but therein lies its genius. “Boom Clap” managed to rewrite everything about the romantic soundtrack genre and turned the Cambridge-born English rose into a celebrity almost overnight.

72) G.R.L – Ugly Heart

The Pussycat Dolls 2.0 launched their assault on the world with the Dr. Luke-produced “Ugly Heart” which is a snarky kiss off to those infuriatingly hot wankers who we’ve all met. The prominent ukulele line gives the track a country vibe in the vein of “Timber” and results in a sassy, empowering self-liberation anthem.

71) Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Runaway Daydreamer

Sophie Ellis-Bextor has made a stellar comeback this year. “Runaway Daydreamer” is a floaty, delicate piece which channels nursery rhymes and themes of escapism and self-discovery.  The intriguing instrumental choices add to the mystique and dreamy melody and her lighter-than-a-feather vocals float lazily over the sweeping piano chorus. Irresistibly classy.

70) Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’

For a song that’s not just a Eurovision reject but a Melodifestivalen reject (for those who don’t know, Melodifestivalen is a song contest that the Swedish use to choose who will represent them at Eurovision), “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” is shockingly contemporary and even respectable. Perhaps it is for these reasons that “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” was doomed to fail at the antiquated Melodifestivalen and the insipid “Undo” nailed on to succeed. Still, Ace Wilder had the last laugh after “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” shot straight to No.1 in Sweden, leaving its vanquisher floundering.

69) Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige – F For You

Sometimes it just takes a little extra spice to bring a track to life. Disclosure’s original solo version of “F For You” had already managed to peak top 20 in the UK when they decided to revamp it for a 2014 rerelease. And what a difference a year made. Mary’s soulful vocals helped bring some personality to the track and even inspired the diva enough for her to write her own dance-influenced single “Right Now” released later in the year.

68) HAIM – If I Could Change Your Mind

After establishing themselves as one of the breakout acts of 2013 and notching up a UK top 20 single and a No.1 album HAIM continued their success in 2014, bagging themselves another UK top 30 with “If I Could Change Your Mind” early in the year. The thumping bass and 80’s inspired synths ensured the singles radio success and commercial appeal, but it was HAIM’s signature snappy delivery that won us over.

67) Inna Feat. J Balvin – Cola Song

Ok I have never said that this list was completely based on quality and sometimes you just need to give in to the infectious beats. Although her success has plateaued outside of certain European markets, she is still extremely popular in Spain where she is the queen of the song of the summer.  “Cola Song” was this year’s effort from the Romanian and, while possibly being one of the worst songs of the year, “Cola Song” is also one of the catchiest and most fun. The on-trend saxophone instrumental serves as the hook and the steamy video seals the deal with zest.

66) Paolo Nutini – Better Man

It may be easy to overlook Paolo among the tirade of male solo artists who have found international success this year but that would be a crying shame as his album Caustic Love is a masterpiece of spacious production and truly soulful vocals. Released in April the album shot straight to No.1 and was at the time the fastest selling album in the UK. The promotional single “Better Man” managed to creep into the top 40 but its quality far outsides its commercial performance. This is a lesson in letting music breathe and speak on its own merits. “Better Man” is the crowning piece of Caustic Love, nestled right in the middle of the album and serving as a heart-breakingly honest ode to self-improvement.

65) Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue

She may not have achieved the commercial success that her albums usually enjoy with her latest offering Kiss Me Once but nevertheless it undoubtedly remains one of the most fun albums of 2014. “Into the Blue” served as the lead single from the album and is the perfect zingy pick-me-up for anyone who is having a bad day. It’s easy to claim that euphoric tunes like this are ten to the dozen nowadays but it’s the lyrical connection that Kylie makes “Into the Blue” truly uplifting (“When I got my back up against the wall, don’t need no one to rescue me/’Cause I ain’t waiting up for no miracle, yeah tonight I’m running free!

64) Shakira Feat. Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

Reggae/ska inspired beats have been all over the charts this year (“Rude”, “Am I Wrong?”) but lest we forget that Shakira and Rihanna started it all in January of this year. “Can’t Remember to Forget You” may have become more famous for its raunchy video featuring some steamy sexual tension between the two singers but sonically the track is probably one of the most interesting of 2014.

63) Paolo Nutini – Scream (Funk My Life Up)

Paolo again. “Scream” is one of the few upbeat songs from Caustic Love and served as the lead single, becoming his biggest hit in the UK since his debut single “Last Request”. Taboo, naughty and just a bit sexy “Scream” is 2014’s perfect dedication to a girl so fine she makes you want to scream. Ooh err.

62) Cheryl Feat. Tinie Tempah – Crazy Stupid Love

Kylie must be kicking herself for rejecting “Crazy Stupid Love” after Cheryl took it straight to the top of the UK charts in the summer. Thumping percussion, fingersnaps and handclaps, a raw saxophone hook, a sneaky guest rap from Tinie Tempah.  “Crazy Stupid Love” has all the ingredients of a massive smash and, upon debuting at No.1 in July it helped Cheryl equal Geri Halliwell’s long standing record of being the only UK female with 4 No.1 singles. A record that Cheryl has since broken with her latest single “I Don’t Care”. Go on Chezza!

61) Wisin Feat. Ricky Martin & Jennifer Lopez – Adrenalina

“Adrenalina” was the perfect soundtrack to this year’s long, hot summer. Puerto Rican singer Wisin roped in some old friends and collaborators in the form of international latin popstars Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin in order to help him rule the radio waves. The result was a sticky, sexy hot mess with a bit of leather thrown in for good measure. As Shakira would say “así es perfecto”.

The Best Modern Christmas Songs

Sick of Slade? Has enough of Shakin’ Stevens’ wiggling hips? Wish “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” would just bloody go away? There’s nothing wrong with taking a little break from the tried and tested Christmas classics and why not start by exploring some modern Yuletide treats. I have compiled a list of some of the best festive tunes since 2000 for you lovely readers. You never know, you might find a few hidden classics among them:

1) Ariana Grande – Santa Tell Me

Ariana Grande christmas
That’s how you rock the Christmas jumper look

2014 has really been a fantastic year for the 21 year old. With her second studio album My Everything peaking at No.1 in the US she became the first female artists to have two consecutive her first two albums top the charts since Susan Boyle. My Everything also peaked top 5 in basically every country in the world and solidified her as a premium pop princess to be reckoned with. Lead single “Problem” managed to peak at No.1 in the UK and became a massive worldwide smash. Subsequent singles “Break Free” and “Love Me Harder” also managed to peak top 10 in the US and chart worldwide. Grande has also managed to spend 26 straight weeks in the top ten of the US Billboard Charts with “Problem”, “Break Free” and “Bang Bang”. This girl is on fire! “Santa Tell Me” is the icing on the cake of an incredible year for the diva-in-the-making. Though it’s far from her first festive offering. In fact, she released a whole EP of holiday tunes entitled Christmas Wishes last year, featuring cover versions of “Last Christmas” and several new tracks. However, “Santa Tell Me” is by far her best Christmas release to date. It’s really everything you’d want from a future holiday classic: jingly bells; warm vocals; lyrics about snow and Santa. Of course, she’s not managed to record the next “All I Want For Christmas Is You” for the moment, but a few more smart, well-intentioned tries and she just might!

2) Leona Lewis – One More Sleep

Leona Lewis One More Sleep
A festive Christmas Cyclops

After the weak commercial performance of Leona’s third studio album Glassheart the ex-X Factor starlet decided to go down the well-trodden Christmas album route to try and remind us why we fell in love with her in the first place. Luckily, she really did throw everything and the kitchen sink at this project and the result is one of the best Christmas albums in recent memory. Lead single “One More Sleep” sees Lewis counting down the days until her lover comes home on Christmas day. It’s not the most original of concepts, but the holidays are not a time for originality and the Phil Spector wall of sound Motown vibe more than makes up for it. When “One More Sleep” climbed to No.3 in the UK last Christmas Lewis became the British female artist with the most top 5 singles in chart history with a total of 8. Not a bad Christmas present for the Hackney lass.

3) Kelly Clarkson – Underneath the Tree

Kelly Clarkson Underneath the Tree
It wasn’t just the logs on the fire that were smouldering that year.

Up till last year it was generally accepted that if and when Kelly Clarkson decided to release a Christmas album that it would be an absolute corker, and boy did she not disappoint. Wrapped in Red boasted Wall of Sound throwback vibe which was perfectly offset by Kelly’s powerhouse vocals. The album went on to become the highest selling 2013 Christmas release, despite facing strong competition from Mary J Blige and Duck Dynasty. Lead single “Underneath the Tree” became a worldwide top 40 smash and received extremely positive critical praise, with critics comparing it to Mariah Carey’s seminal classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Sleigh bells, chimes and saxophone solos all come together on “Underneath the Tree” to create the perfect festive feel filled to the brim with unbridled optimism. You can’t help but like this one!

4) Gabriella Cilmi – Warm this Winter

Gabriella Cilmi Warm this Winter
That is not how you’re gonna keep warm this winter Gabriella

She may have faded into obscurity since her platinum selling debut album Lessons to Be Learned and all-conquering single “Sweet About Me” but when she was still at the peak of her fame in 2008 Gabriella Cilmi was approached to record an updated version of Connie Francis’ classic “I’m Gonna Be Warm this Winter” for the Co-op’s holiday advert. The advert became an instant favourite and the single rose and rose up the ranks of the UK singles chart. Cilmi’s hearty vocals form the core of this bubbly, festive offering which features copious amounts of brass. It also helped to open up Francis’ version to a whole new market. Finger snappin’ fun!

5) Britney Spears – My Only Wish (This Year)

Britney Spears My Only Wish This Year
If only she’d wished not to go friggin’ mental

Although in 2000 Britney had already declared that she wasn’t “that innocent” (“Oops I Did It Again”) and that her loneliness wasn’t killing her no more” (“Stronger”), this era is still a throwback to when Britney’s image was whiter than white and her head was still full of luscious blonde locks. “My Only Wish (This Year)” is a bubblegum pop tune that could have come direct from her …Baby One More Time album. It’s a throwback to a simpler time that is just as potent now as it was back then. It was recorded by Britters for Platinum Christmas, a compilation CD put together with festive recording made by famous pop singers at the turn of the century (such as Dido and S Club 7!). Typically, Spears sings about wanting her love to be returned to her underneath her Christmas tree (prickly) by jolly old Saint Nick. Although it is revered as a modern Christmas classic to this day it didn’t really chart anywhere, except in South Korea where it did spectacularly well, selling over 600,000 copies…

6) The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)

The Darkness Christmas Time Dont Let the Bells End
You don’t see that kind of Christmas passion often enough nowadays

An oft forgotten yuletide gem which was engaged in one of the most epic chart battles ever in 2003 against Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’ gloomy cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”. “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End”) was released at The Darkness’ peak of popularity, coming off their most popular single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” which had just peaked at No.2. At this point they were one of the biggest bands in the UK and everyone believed that they would bag the Christmas No.1. That is, until the relatively unknown Gary Jules and Michael Andrews emerged as challengers at the last minute. The glam rockers were No.1 with “Christmas Time” all throughout the week until Saturday when they were pipped to the post by the newcomers. Nevertheless, The Darkness’ seasonal offering still crops up every December and keeps us wondering how they managed to get away with saying the word “bellend” in a Christmas song.

7) Michael Bublé & Thalía – Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad

Michael Buble ft Thalia - Mis Deseos / Feliz Navidad
Hael Uble is my favourite artist

Michael Bublé´s Christmas has been a phenomenon. Even in markets where holiday albums done usually sell well such as the UK it managed to break records. As of last year it has sold over 2 million copies in the UK alone and has charted in the top 10 of the album charts every December since release. It also peaked at No.1 in 14 other major markets, including the US, and has sold an impressive 8.5 million copies worldwide. Personally, the highlight of the album is the heartfelt cover of “Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad” with Mexican singer Thalía. Even the detractors can’t deny the magic of their cover of Puerta Rican singer José Feliciano’s 1970 classic which is tucked away at the end of the Canadian smooth talker’s 2011 Christmas album. It brings an exotic Latin feel to the holiday period which is always welcome.

8) Idina Menzel & Michael Buble – Baby It’s Cold Outside

Indina Menzel Holiday Wishes
Wait a minute! Isn’t she Jewish?

More Bublé you say! Well he is the king of the cheesy festive tune after all. This one comes fresh off the pipeline from Idina Menzel, the singer who “let it go” this year, who has just released a new Christmas album entitled Holiday Wishes. The album of classic covers is her first in 6 years and follows her commercial success as the voice of Queen Elsa in the tremendously popular Frozen. The album has also become her highest charting and first top ten US album, having peaked so far at No.10. The lea single “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has become her second charting single in the US, after “Let It Go”. Idina’s voice blends perfectly with Michael’s and the little ad-lib quips that they make throughout add colour and personality to this cover. Sure sometimes Bublés accent is really corny and irritating on this track but I’ll let it go because it’s a great cover in all other areas.

9) Natasha Bedingfield – Shake Up Christmas

Natasha Bedingfield Shake Up Christmas
Is Natasha’s dismembered head wrapped in a bow really an appropriate Christmas present?

You don’t hear much about Natasha Bedingfield anymore do you? She kind of disappeared off the face of the earth after the flop of her last album Strip Me which peaked at an embarrassing No.103 in the US. She hasn’t even bothered releasing anything in the UK for years anyway! I still have blind faith that she will come back and smash it up again, but that hope is diminishing with every year that passes. The last bone she threw us Bedingfield fans was “Shake Up Christmas” which she recorded for the Coca-Cola Christmas advert. It’s the last piece of evidence that there is left of Bedingfield’s signature cheery peppiness which suits the festive period to perfection. It’s not quite your typical Christmas song, in fact the verse is half rapped. But the chorus is immediate and catchy as hell. You’ll find yourself singing along before too long.

10) Kylie Minogue – Santa Baby

Kylie Minogue Santa Baby
“Don’t you dare look up my skirt!”

In 2010 Kylie decided to throw us a season treat in the form of her 5th EP A Kylie Christmas which featured a cover of “Santa Baby” and “Let It Snow”. Kylie’s cover of “Santa Baby” serves as a good reminder of all the things we love about the diminutive princess of pop. Kylie dishes out just the right amount of sugar and spice to make this cover the ideal blend of naughty and nice. I’m sure Santa was very happy that year. Kylie also manages to preserve the original tongue-in-cheek vibe but also enhances it tenfold to make it one of the best “Santa Baby” covers out there. Only Kylie would have the audacity to flirt with Santa that much!

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment. Oh and Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!

Unguilty Pleasure No.11: Kylie Minogue – Chocolate

Ok, so one of these days I had to pick a Kylie song. She is, after all, the undeniable Queen of the Unguilty Pleasure and the all-conquering Princess of Pop. But instead of picking one of her tried and tested classics like “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” or “Spinning Around”, I have decided to delve deeper into her back catalogue and select a less appreciated Kylie treat. And what could be more decadent and naughty than “Chocolate”.

Kylie Minogue – Chocolate

Kylie Minogue Chocolate
Go and have a shower woman! You sweaty mare

“Chocolate” was released as the third single from Kylie’s ninth studio album Body Language which served as the follow up to multi-platinum smash record “Fever”, which sold over 6 million records worldwide and contained the global smashes “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, “In Your Eyes”, “Love at First Sight” and “Come into My World”, all of which peaked inside the UK top 10 and went on to become some of the best-selling singles ever. It’s always difficult, nigh impossible, to maintain such a level of commercial success and in that sense Body Language was always slightly doomed to being overshadowed by its predecessor. So, instead of reproducing the style of “Fever” and trying to capitalise on its success, Kylie decided to do something completely different and transform herself into a sultry, Brigitte Bardot-inspired sex kitten with a heightened focus on mid-tempo pulsating synths. This is cited as one of Minogue’s numerous self-reinventions over the years, beginning with the girl-next-door image of “I Should Be So Lucky” and evolving through her “experimental” stage in the late nineties right through to her electronic disco baby phase, to name but a few. In fact, here’s an essay I found on Kylie’s numerous image changes. Oh some people…

http://www.nobleworld.biz/images/Barron.pdf

Kylie Minogue image reinventions
Imagine the Kylie on the left singing “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”…

The lead single taken from Body Language “Slow” did manage to peak at No.1 in the UK, Australia and on the US Billboard Hot Club Play charts but, in comparison to the wild, runaway success of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, the commercial performance of “Slow” was rather lacklustre. Follow up single, the peppery garage-influenced “Red Blooded Woman” also managed to peak top five in Australia and in the UK. Now we come to “Chocolate”. I picked this one because I believe that it stands out in Kylie’s back catalogue as something different. For one thing she doesn’t do that many ballads and it’s quite a funky ballad as ballads go. Ballad. Ballad. Ballad. Now that word sounds weird.

kylie minogue gif
Oh my god its does!

Upon release, “Chocolate” became Kylie’s 27th top ten hit in the UK where it peaked at No.6. It also managed to peak top 10 in Belgium and Hungary but it missed the Australian top ten altogether, peaking at No.14. It’s relatively poor chart positions notwithstanding, “Chocolate” is a glorious Kylie gem which should be lauded as one of the divas most inventive confections to date. Of course, using chocolate as a simile to describe love is not the most original of ideas but the genius of “Chocolate” is the fact that it is in itself onomatopoeic. It is the sonic equivalent of chocolate, a smooth and sensuous experience which leaves you craving more.

kylie Minogue chocolate video
Here is some Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting the first Kylie

As always, Minogue executes the song with style and panache. That certain je ne sais quoi which Kylie has in spades helps her to bring songs like “Chocolate” to life and that’s why Kylie is one of the greats. It’s her breathy, whispered vocals which steal the show. Unlike other divas (cough…Christina Aguilera) Kylie never over eggs the pudding. There is no wild showboating here. No wailing melismas which ends up with the singer’s ego swallowing the melody of the song whole. Kylie has always been all business and, for us, that invariably equals all pleasure.

Christina Aguilera gif
Oh what a hoot I am

Never one to skimp on good songwriters, Kylie engaged the crème de la crème of lyricists to pen “Chocolate” and boy does it show. “Chocolate” is chock full of saucy metaphors and “tastes so good-esque” moments. When she purrs /hold me and control me and then melt me slowly down/ you can physically hear the sex oozing out of every pore. This woman is the embodiment of Aphrodite.

You can’t ignore the ridiculously sexy video either. This is classy sexy, not Rihanna or Lady Gaga leave-nothing-to-the-imagination sexy, the other kind. The better one. There are some stunning outfits and even a hilarious hat which turns out to be a dance floor somehow. This is pure class defined! She even does ballet.

kylie Minogue chocolate hat video
In a weird parallel world full of hats with little people in

 

I hope you like “Chocolate” as much as I do and if you have any recommendations for future Unguilty Pleasures please leave a comment below or comment on the Facebook page (the link is on the right at the top).  Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!

The Top 32 Songs of the Second Quarter of 2014: PART 2

Here is the long-awaited conclusion to the Top 32 songs of April to June this year. Get ready for the big leagues. It’s 20-1!!!

20) Lily Allen – Our Time

Lily Allen Our Time
They made me stand here for so long that I started eating my finger

Lily Allen was back with a bang this year with her hit and miss third studio album Sheezus. The gobby Londoner’s new musical offerings turned out to be even more hard-hitting than before, which meant that third single “Our Time” stood out as one of the more straightforward pop songs in a sea of social criticism. But “Our Time” is much more than a simple piece of pop nonsense, it’s a glimmer of the old Allen who used her lyrical sing song style to tell stories about scenarios that everybody has experienced at one point in their lives. This Allen was instantly relatable and likeable due to her down to earth attitude. “Our Time” proves that the Allen, who we all loved and admired, is not dead. She’s alive and well on this euphoric celebration of life which serves as an instant pick-me-up after a hard day at work. The track is also infinitely enhanced by Lily’s spaced out vocals which meld together with the synth-driven backing beat to create a relaxed trippy feeling.

19) Kylie Minogue – I Was Gonna Cancel

Kylie Minogue I Was Gonna Cancel
Someone thought that a gormless, ginger Kylie was a good idea

Kylie jumped on the Pharrell-bandwagon this year with the second single from her twelfth studio album Kiss Me Once. “I Was Gonna Cancel” is a funky slice of disco inspired pop with squelchy beats to boot. However, sadly it failed to become a hit for the Australian pop veteran, peaking at a disappointing 59 in the UK charts. I have no clue why everyone seems to be hating on Kylie at the minute but it’s sad to see music of this quality go unappreciated. Don’t worry Kylie! Diary of a Pop Fan loves you

18) Lady Gaga – G.U.Y (Girl Under You)

Lady Gaga - GUY
Just your average friday night

Another example of a former all-conquering global star who has been going through a rough patch recently. “G.U.Y” was selected as the third single from Gaga’s ARTPOP with the view of rejuvenating the current album campaign after the tepid reception received by former singles “Do What U Want” and “Applause”. Unfortunately, “G.U.Y” was unable to help Gaga’s career and actually became her lowest peaking single worldwide. On paper however, “G.U.Y” seems like a sure-fire hit: the song was co-written by producer of the moment Zedd, it’s actually one of Gaga’s cleverest songs in so far as it manages to celebrate the subversion of sexual and gender norms and it features some killer synths and a grinding, dirty, dirty bass. But sadly the record buying public is often very unpredictable and  it seems that Gaga’s once Midas touch has turned to poison.

17) Iggy Azalea Feat. Charli XCX – Fancy

Iggy Azalea Fancy
Oh god I was too busy licking my lips and someone drew on me

24-year old Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea had been knocking on the door of utter world domination for over a year and had even managed to bag herself 3 consecutive UK top 20’s before she went stratospheric with mega-smash “Fancy”. Upon its release, the US instantly fell in love with Azalea’s swag fiercely-real sass and the song quickly soared to the top of the Billboard Chart. It’s no surprise that “Fancy” has become the all-conquering hit that it is, seeing as it’s basically Fergie’s “Glamorous” mark 2, which notably also reached No.1 in the US. However, Iggy has succeeded in updating the sound and the chemistry between her and Charli XCX only adds to the mix. But what really sells “Fancy” is the pulsing backing beat, which requires actual brain surgery to remove from your head.

16) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

Sky Ferreira I Blame Myself
Wait come back! You forgot to do my hair

With the second single from her album Night Time, My Time Sky Ferreira proved that the ridiculously amazing “Everything is Embarrassing” was more than just a fluke. Fuelled by a stomping backing beat and Ferreira’s confessional, gritty lyrics, “I Blame Myself” stands out amongst the backdrop of superficiality for which the pop music industry is famous.  On the electro synth track Sky faces her demons by admitting that she alone is responsible for her less than respectable public image. Honesty is all too rare in the music business, especially if it involves self-criticism and that’s part of the reason why Sky Ferreira is such a fascinating artist. There is no Beyoncé- esque aura of invincibility or Gaga-like illusions of grandeur. Sky Ferreira is simply a real person using music as her therapy and, as long as it remains such good quality, may the healing process continue.

15) Wisin Feat. Ricky Martin & Jennifer Lopez – Adrenalina

Wisin Jennifer Lopez Ricky Martin Adrenalina
Fresh from the S&M party

This high-profile collaboration might not be familiar to English-speakers, but has so far ruled the summer in Spanish-speaking territories. Puerto Rico met America when rapper Wisin teamed up with reliable hitmakers Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin on this irresistible fist-pumper and the result is the undeniable soundtrack to the ultimate summer holiday. You don’t have to speak a word of Spanish in order to be caught up in the infectious energy and adrenaline of the track. I defy you not to throw shapes immediately.

14) Sia – Chandelier

Sia Chandelier
I will kill you all

After spending the past couple of years writing for other artists and collaborating on big dance tunes, Sia finally rebooted her solo career this year, kicking off with the bombastic first single “Chandelier” from her forthcoming sixth studio album 1,000 Forms of Fear. The Australian songstress made good her return with this epic electronica-reggae fused jam which is impossible to ignore. Sia sounds like a wounded wolf on “Chandelier” as she howls away the pain inside over booming synths. If party girls needed a self-destruction anthem, here it is.

13) G.R.L – Ugly Heart

GRL Ugly Heart
I’m gon’ bash you with my maraca

G.R.L are currently known for their guest appearance on the recent Pitbull single “Wild Wild Love”, but one listen to “Ugly Heart” proves that they are so much better than Pitbull’s corny lines. “Ugly Heart” was produced by Ke$ha collaborator Dr. Luke who chose to capitalise on the country EDM trend started by Avicii last year by knitting together the production with a prominent guitar line. The stomping beat lends pace to the track and the girls’ no s**t attitude turns this into a semi-feminist anthem. But what really makes this track stand out and gives me hope that G.R.L will have a bright future are the groups powerful, unique vocals which convey all the kick ass, sassy attitude of a woman who is calling out a no-good ugly hearted ex-boyfriend and reasserting the old adage that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

12) Mei Feingold – Same Heart

Mei Feingold Same Heart
That’s not terrifying at all

Billed as the Israeli Lady Gaga, Mei Feingold, who finished third on the Israeli Pop Idol, was immediately lauded as one of the favourites to win Eurovision this year. Her soaring, power-house vocals, the slick choreography and slow-burning, lazy guitar riff won over supporters in droves and the song was predicted to finish within the top 5 at the very least. However, in a shock result “Same Heart” went crashing out of the competition way before its time, not even reaching the Final and leaving Europe flabbergasted. One can only speculate as to why such an injustice was done to such a quality song and artist. Perhaps Feingold’s intense performance was not to Europe’s tastes (and Lady Gaga is the new Norah Jones). Maybe the bitter arsenic oozing from her voice left viewers intimidated, rather than moved. Maybe they felt overpowered by the rising, dramatic climax and melodrama. Maybe Mei’s uniquely deep voice made them believe that Eurovision had one Conchita too many this year. Either way, “Same Heart” will go down as the best Eurovision song never to reach the finals.

11) Ed Sheeran – Sing

Ed Sheeran Sing
The Lipless Man

Ed Sheeran could have gone one of two ways with the first single from his much-awaited second studio album: “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”- esque rap mixed with R &B funk or soulful balladeering in the style of past hits such as “The A Team” and “Lego House”. The form Sheeran is on at the minute suggests that either would have worked, but in the end he decided to take a bigger risk and opted for the Pharrell-assisted “Sing”, which shot straight to the top of the charts earlier this month. Luckily for Sheeran, his Pharrell collab ended up being much more successful than Kylie’s and the rowdy chorus will no doubt have you singing your lungs out before too long.

10) Enrique Iglesias Feat. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona – Bailando

Enrique Iglesias
How dare you spank me!

Despite falling slightly flat with his English language comeback this year, Enrique has been ruling the Spanish-language charts this summer and even managed to achieve his 26th Latin Airplay No.1 with “Bailando”, the sixth single of his tenth studio album Sex and Love. The track has also managed to find success in English-language charts as well, becoming one of the highest peaking Spanish tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 ever, having peaked at No.35 thus far. And it’s no wonder when Enrique so effortlessly channels fresh summery beats and generously spreads the warm, Latin rhythms across the globe. Also, don’t miss the sultry flamenco troupe dancing in the video. Spain’s tourist board will be sending flowers.

9) Kiesza – Hideaway

Kiesza Hideaway
Ah that’s where the Empire State Building went

Canadian new-comer Kiesza appeared out of nowhere in April 2014 and managed to grab herself a UK No.1 record when “Hideaway” shot straight to the top of the charts and became the third fastest selling single of the year. Kiesza was apparently influenced by her mother’s love for 90’s dance when she was growing up, which ultimately led to the development of the deep-house flavoured “Hideaway”. The song has already stormed the charts worldwide and catapulted the Calgary-native to instant stardom. It’s not hard to see why either. With “Hideaway” Kiesza has managed to craft something that sounds simultaneously familiar and innovative. It’s one of those rare moments when the stars align, lightning strikes and pop perfection is created.

8) Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

Rita Ora I Will Never Let You Down
Why is there a creepy girl drawn on your arm?

Rita Ora made good use of her former boyfriend producer and singer Calvin Harris on the first cut from her sophomore album.  “I Will Never Let You Down” features the guitar-riff of the summer and a bouncy breakdown to boot, which helps to create a fresh smooth new sound for the Kosovo born starlet. The electro synth style suits her to a T as she purrs over the boisterous beat which is full to bursting with hooks. If there was ever a sure fire No.1, this was it.

7) Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Sam Smith Stay with me
Just do a weird face, we’ll put it in black and white and make it look classy

Sam Smith managed to capitalise on the media attention surrounding his burgeoning career by providing the world with one of the most emotive ballads of the year. Sam’s voice has never sounded so rich and soul-drenched. Lyrically and sonically “Stay with me” is definitely back to basics, but instead of being a hindrance, the simplicity only enhances the beauty and effectiveness of the track. The stripped back backing drumming and the gospel-esque chorus helps make “Stay With Me” one of the most emotional tearjerkers of the year. The man can do no wrong.

6) Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

Paloma Faith Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Eat my finger? Sigh…the things I do to be famous.

Paloma Faith has never really been a singles artist, but people seem to buy her albums by the bucket load. However, this time something clicked and she finally managed to secure two top ten singles off one album with the sassy “Can’t Rely on You” and now “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”. In fact, the latter managed to out peak the former in a rare twist of events and became her biggest hit to date, peaking at No.6 on the UK charts. Obviously the public have taken a shine to Faith’s new Motown influenced sixties-style. After all, who could resist the combination of those power-house vocals with the stomping drumming and brassy instrumentation? Pure Bliss.

5) The Common Linnets – Calm after the Storm

The Common Linnets - Calm after the Storm
You mean to say that we lost to a drag act?

The true winner of Eurovision 2014 and the most unique song in the competition this year. The Common Linnet’s country-bluegrass ditty stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the glitz and glamour of this year’s Eurovision entries and was the indisputable dark horse of the competition. It became a shock success and the Netherlands’ highest peaking entry since 1975, picking up an astonishing 238 points and finishing second. What’s more, immediately following Eurovision, “Calm after the Storm” managed to peak at No.9 on the UK singles chart, well out-peaking the winner Conchita Wurst, who entered at No.17 with “Rise like a Phoenix”. The key to the tunes’ success lies in the singer’s sincerity and the song’s authenticity. “Calm after the Storm” sounds like a genuine country hit and not just a flashy Eurovision show tune. In fact, it’s a shock that the Common Linnets even decided to enter Eurovision when “Calm after the Storm” would have most likely become a hit in Europe even without the publicity provided by the song contest. It has a classic feel to it, enhanced by the unassuming, plodding beat, warm gritty vocals and serene simplicity that are as welcome as a big warm hug when you come home after a hard day.

4) Mr Probz – Waves

Mr Probz Waves
Señor Mega Pout

It’s shaping up to be a good year for the Netherlands, with back to back Dutch tunes assaulting the top 5 of this chart. Mr Probz burst practically out of nowhere earlier this year after his song “Waves” was remixed by German producer Robin Schulz, which propelled the single to instant success across all of Europe. “Waves” has managed to peak at No.1 in Austria, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the UK as well as in many others and became a club smash worldwide. However, the genius of “Waves” is that Mr. Probz somehow managed to create musical onomatopoeia in so far as the relaxing, ensnaring dance beat and his soulful vocals wash over you like waves across the shore. Get smart people, it’s clearly the way forward.

3) Coldplay – A Sky Full of Stars

Coldplay A Sky Full of Stars
The Exorcism of Coldplay. Out 1st of July

Coldplay never fail to deliver. Six albums in and they are still managing to rule the world with innovative tunes of relentlessly epic proportions which somehow succeed in appealing to every gender, age group and musical taste. “A Sky Full of Stars” shows the band at their stadium-filling best and proves that they can pull off songs that aren’t completely miserable as well.  Chris Martin’s soaring vocals and piano-riffs never get old, especially when infused with some of producer-extraordinaire Avicii’s magic dust. However, Chris’ voice is definitive enough to not get washed away amidst the heavy production and the EDM festival-ready chorus. This is what bottled euphoria sounds like.

2) Ella Henderson – Ghost

Ella Henderson Ghost
You can take the girl out of Lincolnshire, but you can take the Lincolnshire out of the girl

What do you do when you fight through the stages of the X Factor each week, constantly being championed as a favourite, only to crash out in week 7? Do you crumble under the disappointment and fade away into obscurity never to be heard of again? Oh hell no! You immediately rope in unfailing hit maker Ryan Tedder to provide you with one of the best tracks of the year and prove that you were the rightful winner. Tedder’s gothic lyricism, storming piano line and thumping percussion are rife on “Ghost”, which is no bad thing, but can overwhelm certain artists. When you’re song contains words such as “creeping, sin, pain, hell, saint, pray, wash the pain, haunting, and demons”, it’s easy to fade under the melodrama. Not Ella though. She makes her own luck with “Ghost” and the track would be nothing without her bellowing, bluesy tones and the subtle bruised tone which lends the 18-year old a conviction well beyond her years. “Ghost” is a slow burning fireball which grows into a raging inferno and I have no qualms in saying that it is the best X Factor song since “Bleeding Love”. Possibly even better. After all, she even manages to fit in a sneaky pun thinking we wouldn’t notice. Give up the ghost. You’re too much Ella! Go on lass.

1) Ariana Grande Feat. Iggy Azalea – Problem

Ariana Grande Problem
I swear it’s tomato sauce….

For those of you who haven’t heard of Ariana Grande, she is a 20 year old Florida-born singer who rose to fame in 2010 after portraying Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious. The singer released her debut album Yours Truly in 2013 which peaked at No.1 in the US and produced several hit singles, including the easy-breezy “The Way”. The singer made a triumphal return earlier this year with her comeback single, the 90’s influenced “Problem”, which is currently sitting at No.2 in the US, just behind Iggy Azalea’s Fancy (a feat which allowed Azalea to become the first act since The Beatles to occupy the top 2 spots on the Billboard Chart with her first two releases).  “Problem” has also already been a hit in Australia, Canada and most of Europe and is indisputably the song of summer 2014. Here’s why:

1) Grande’s power-house vocals – Contrary to many TV star-turned-musicians, Grande has an amazing voice which has the ability to soar higher than the empire state and does so freely on “Problem’s” bridge section.

2) The sexy saxophone loop – It’s official. Brass is back! Grande cleverly manages to cash in on this current pop trend on “Problem”, which gives the single a slightly sleazy sexiness.

3) Iggy Azalea’s short but sweet feature rap – Despite having been around for years, Iggy has only just achieved success in the US, meaning that Grande’s “Problem” couldn’t have come at a better time. Pop is in love with the way she spits out her syllables and anything she is on is destined for success.

4) Attitude – Grande’s got bags of it. Iggy’s got bags of it (must be 2 for 1 somewhere) and they got one less problem without you. No hanger-on loser man can bring them down. It’s practically a feminist rallying cry!

Basically “Problem’s” brilliance is a combination of all of the above and then some. Move over “Blurred Lines” there a new soundtrack of the summer in town.

So that’s it for the Top 32 of the Second Quarter of 2014. As always feel free to leave any comments on facebook or on this blog and thank you very much for reading.

The Pop Fortune Teller’s Predictions 05/05/2014

David: Another week has passed and that means it’s time for Diary of a Pop Fan’s resident Fortune Teller to give us some more predictions of which songs will be burning up the charts in the coming weeks. Take it away Oda Mae.

Pop Fortune Teller
Pop Fortune Teller

Fortune Teller: Hello again dearies. Thank you for joining me once again for another round of pop-tastic predictions that you won’t want to miss. Gather around my crystal ball of wonders as I guide you on a mystical journey of pop fabulousness.

 

1)    Beyonce – Pretty Hurts

Beyonce Pretty Hurts
Pretty Hurts

My first prediction for this week is another sure fire smash for the reigning queen of pop. It is of course the fabulous Beyoncé with “Pretty Hurts”. Taken from an album which is chock full of potential hits, “Pretty Hurts” manages to stand out on the strength of the moral message which will shine as a beacon, above all, to teenage girls suffering from self-esteem issues. Of course, this is well-trodden territory, but Beyoncé manages to make the message sound fresh with the honesty and rawness of the production and vocals. The Pop Fortune Teller appreciates the positive message, but finds it ironic that Beyoncé preaches the danger of vanity whilst looking absolutely fabulous. However, criticisms aside, “Pretty Hurts” is a built around a slow-burning atmospheric bass-line which subtly lodges itself somewhere in the part of your cranium reserved for pop delicacies such as this. Beyoncé’s soulful wailing adds to the epic-ness of the track as well and pushes this slow-roasted ham of a track into the stratosphere.

The mists of time predict a strong top ten for “Pretty Hurts”.

2)    Kylie Minogue – I Was Gonna Cancel

Kylie Minogue I Was Gonna Cancel
I Was Gonna Cancel

Kylie’s career has become more unpredictable than my box of enchanted shrunken heads lately after the relative flop of her last single “Into the Blue”, which seemed to be a shoe-in to become another number one for the diminutive pop diva. Luckily, nothing gets past me, the Pop Fortune Teller, and I predict big things for the second single taken from her twelfth album Kiss Me Once “I Was Gonna Cancel”. For starters, the song plays on funk-fuelled current pop trends due to its being produced by man-of-the-moment Pharrell, who has put his Midas touch to good use on this track. Secondly, the song features several sections, each one more infectious than the last, I count three in total: the “go go go” section, the “I was gonna cancel” section and the “just hop out of the bed” section. That’s a lot of Kylie to love. Interestingly, the glitchy electro-pop fiesta was inspired by real life when Kylie almost cancelled on a recording session with Pharrell due to having the blues. But luckily he convinced her otherwise and, frankly, the world should be extremely glad that Kylie decided not to cancel.

After reading Kylie’s palm, I predict that this will become her 33rd top ten single.

3)    Sam Smith – Stay with Me

Sam Smith Stay With Me Artwork
Stay With Me

Sam Smith’s debut single “Money on my Mind” has already become one of the biggest singles of 2014 and his debut album is set to sell a shedload. So it makes sense that his second single, the soulful “Stay with Me” will be another smash for the Peterborough-born singer. Another strong indicator the extremely Emeli Sandé-esque nature of “Stay with Me”. We all know what commercial dynamite Sandé is (her debut album sold over 2 million copies in the UK alone) and her stamp is all over “Stay with Me”, right down to the gospel choir and the quiet reflective tone. The Pop Fortune Teller appreciates pensiveness. So it stands to reason that Sam Smith will have another hit on his hands and, actually, it’s quite deserved as the singer pours his heart and soul into “Stay with Me” and almost brings a tear to this old fortune teller’s glass eye.

My crystal ball informs me that “Stay with Me” will be a big top 5.

4)    Cher Lloyd – Sirens

Cher Lloyd
Sirens

The Pop Fortune Teller has always had an affinity with Cher Lloyd, maybe it’s her frank honesty, maybe it’s her penchant for unadulterated fun, or maybe it’s the gypsy roots we both share. Either way, I got my skirts in a ruffle upon hearing young Miss Lloyd’s latest pop gem “Sirens”, which is appropriately titled as it announces a dramatic change of direction for the diva. Those who disapprove of the 20 year old’s crass, in-your-face nature will be shocked by the maturity of “Sirens”, which showcases the vulnerable side hidden beneath the attitude. This is also a rare opportunity when Cher is really allowed to show off her impressive pipes, which are the centrepiece of the track. Cher is at a crossroads in her career however, after a successful debut, the first single of her second album “I Wish” failed to chart, meaning that “Sirens” is make-or-break for her. I’m hoping it’s the former.

If the stars align properly, this should be another top 40 hit for Cher.

5)    Kelis – Forever Be

Kelis
“Food”

My last choice is more a recommendation than a prediction as it would probably take a miracle for Kelis to manage to get a hit off her new album “Food” after her first two singles “Jerk Ribs” and “Rumble” failed to chart at all. However, I believe that this song deserves its place on my list as it is a stellar example of pop-done-right. There is hope though as “Forever Be” is built around a plinkety-plonkety piano line which descends into a sing-along-chorus which is as catchy as a cold. What’s more, “Forever Be” has more current commercial appeal that Kelis’ recent singles as the mind-destroyingly amazing chorus is built around a driving synth bass-line and Kelis’ breathless vocals add a furious urgency to the track. It’s probably the best song Kelis has ever done, nay the best song of the year so far!

I’m seeing a conflicting fortune for “Forever Be”, but if you readers join me in summoning the mighty cosmic forces of Pisces, this might just be a hit.

Unfortunately this song is so undercover that there is no official video for “Forever Be” but you can listen to on spotify or listen to it live here:

So that’s it for my pop predications this week. Thanks for reading. Now I’m off to go buy some tail of newt from Tesco’s before they run out.

The Top 32 Songs of the First Quarter of 2014. PART 2

Hope you enjoyed the first installment of the top 32 of the first quarter of 2014. In part two join me as I count down the all important top 20 best songs of this year so far! Let’s dive straight in:

20)      Lily Allen – Air Balloon

Lily Allen - Air Balloon
Lily Allen – Air Balloon

Lily Allen’s recent lack of singles chart success has been baffling. Her ass-kicking gender equality tune Hard Out Here only managed to peak at a lowly 9 last year and Air Balloon has suffered a similar fate, with both singles dropping off the charts quickly. I could write a whole blog about this topic (and I might still, depending on the performance of Lily’s album Sheezus) but for now let your mind soar with the happy-clappy Air Balloon.

19)      Lorde – Team

Image

Lorde is beyond a shadow of a doubt the woman of the moment, having just bagged herself a Brit for Best International Female and another top 30 smash with Team. This woman can do no wrong at the minute and there’s no wonder with tunes of this calibre.

18)      Gorgon City – Ready for Your Love

Gorgon City - Ready for Your Love
Gorgon City – Ready for Your Love

This year so far has been all about house music and Gorgon City’s No.4 hit is a perfect example of this. The single features MNEK, a London born singer of Nigerian descent, who adds a touch of mystique to this suspenseful club smash.

 

17) Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious

Ellie Goulding - Goodness Gracious
Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious

This song is made a thousand times better by the psychedelic video which features Goulding with light up trainers in a dance off, which singlehandedly brightened up our January. The song isn’t half bad either.

16)      Katy B – Crying for No Reason

Katy B - Crying for No Reason
Katy B – Crying for No Reason

As mentioned in a previous post, this was the single which saved Katy B’s current album campaign and managed to become her third top 5 single. Crying for No Reason is flawlessly produced and Katy B’s brutal honesty would manage to break even the sternest of hearts. Make ‘em weep Katy.

15)      Molly – Children of the Universe

Molly Smitten-Downes - Children of the Universe
Molly Smitten-Downes – Children of the Universe

Something amazing happened this year. The BBC have actually put in a good song into Eurovision. Not a faded talent with a snoozer ballad, not a cheesy novelty act ridiculing the whole concept of Eurovision, but a young upcoming star with a powerful anthemic tune. Our betting odds haven’t been this low in years and some are even saying we’re in with a chance of winning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but trying to not get my hopes up. See what you think of the UK’s Eurovision entry this year.

14)      Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige – F For You

Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige – F For You
Disclosure Feat. Mary J Blige – F For You

Disclosure have managed to have a top 30 hit with F For You on two separate occasions. The original version reached No. 20 last year and was the fourth single off their platinum selling (over 300,000 copies) chart topping album Settle. However, they resurrected the track earlier in 2014 with a feature from diva Mary J Blige who has somehow managed to make a good track even better by infusing it her signature soul drenched vocals. That hook should be illegal.

13)      Sam Smith – Money On My Mind

Sam Smith – Money On My Mind
Sam Smith – Money On My Mind

After winning both the BBC Sound of 2014 poll and the 2014 Critic’s Choice award chart earlier this year chart success was not far behind for the Hertfordshire-born singer. Indeed, he soon brought these predictions to life by bagging his first solo number one single Money on My Mind in February.  This won’t be the last you hear of him.

12)      Pharrell – Happy

Pharrell - Happy
Pharrell – Happy

Although it originally topped the charts in December I felt this funky retro ditty deserved a place in my top 20 as it managed to return to the top of the charts on two separate occasions this year and has gone on to sell well over a million copies in the UK alone. It’s not quite as good as the hype and the song has been played to death on the radio, but there is something special about this infectious clappy tune. Pharrell is just on fire lately.

11)      Pitbull Feat. Ke$ha –  Timber

Pitbull Feat. Ke$ha –  Timber
Pitbull Feat. Ke$ha – Timber

One of 2014’s undeniable monster hits. Ke$ha’s career had been going a bit south recently and she was in need of a good solid hit and relentless chart botherer Pitbull was happy to oblige, being the first to jump on the bandwagon of the new country EDM fusion which Avicii took straight to the top of the charts last year with Wake Me Up. On repeat listen however, the harmonica driven Timber is simply genius and the god-awful lyrics (I’ll have ‘em like Miley Cyrus/clothes off/twerking in their bras and thongs/Timber) just add to the party. Ke$ha’s country twang is perfect on the track as well.

10)      Shakira Feat. Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

Shakira Feat. Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You
Shakira Feat. Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

Everyone loves a bit of Shak. Fact. Everyone loves a bit of RiRi. Fact. Sex sells. FACT! So when the two divas teamed up earlier this year and filmed a steamy, suggestive video the result was destined to be an absolute smash. When all the blatant commercialism is stripped away however, Can’t Remember to Forget You stands on its own merits. All credit to Shakira for experimenting with new sounds and not resorting to following the EDM trends. Who knew that ska could be in for 2014? Well clearly Shakira did.

9)      Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue

Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue
Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue

Sometimes the world is a cruel place. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. This is exactly what happened to Kylie’s latest majestic offering Into the Blue when it failed to make the top ten and became her one of her lowest peaking lead singles, bowing out at an embarrassing No. 12. Goodbye cruel world. There is no explanation for this harsh treatment either. The single is very straightforward and catchy and it received loads of promotion and airplay. How could it fail? But fail it did. Still, at least it reached top ten on one chart…even if it is just mine. I have high hopes for her next single the Pharrell produced I Was Gonna Cancel though. Never give up hope.

8)      Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’

Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’
Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’

This one probably won’t be familiar but it definitely deserves its place on my chart. It should by all rights be the representative for Sweden for Eurovision this year but, as previously mentioned, the world is a cruel place and it lost out by two points to Sanna Nielsen’s snoozefest Undo.  Ace is having the last laugh though as Busy Doin’ Nothin’ is currently on its 4th consecutive week on top of the Swedish singles charts while Undo is floundering at No.8. A slight reversal of the old saying “to the victor go the spoils”.

7)      Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse

Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J– Dark Horse
Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J– Dark Horse

After the commercial failure of her last single Unconditionally Katy Perry was in need of another mega hit if she wanted to keep hold of her pop queen throne. Luckily, she still had a trick left up her Prismatic sleeve in the form Dark Horse, which more than lives up to its name. The track itself is a massive curveball by the Teenage Dream singer who isn’t usually one for musical experimentation, especially not with the trap music style found on Dark Horse. The song is all about suspense and mystery as the song builds and builds into the perfect storm. Yes, it doesn’t have a proper chorus, yes Juicy J’s rap is just as laughable as his name, but there is something magical about this inventive offering from Perry and like a true dark horse the track has come out on top, having become a chart smash worldwide.

6)      Emmelie de Forest – Rainmaker

Emmelie de Forest – Rainmaker
Emmelie de Forest – Rainmaker

Again this will probably be one you’re not familiar with, although the name of the singer might ring a bell. Emmelie de Forest is a Danish singer who rose to fame last year after winning Eurovision 2013 with the haunting wind driven Only Teardrops and she’s back this year with the official Eurovision 2014 song (the song isn’t actually competing but will be performed in the final in Copenhagen). Rainmaker itself could be plucked straight from The Lion King soundtrack, using African chanting and evoking the organic feel of Emmelie’s previous music. Very in keeping with Eurovision’s theme of unity. When asked to comment on the meaning of the song, the singer commented that “it’s about a tribe joining together to call upon the rainmaker to make their land blossom again…it’s about coming together and helping each other out”. (http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=official_joinus_song_launched_penned_by_emmelie)

 

5)      Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely on You

Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely on You
Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely on You

One woman has been kicking serious ass this quarter with her surprisingly sassy Pharrell-produced comeback single Can’t Rely on You which peaked at number ten in February. Mainly a balladeer, it’s rare to see the London born chanteuse singing an upbeat track but boy have we been missing out. Who knew that Paloma could be the queen of vitriol, the sovereign of scorn, the empress of cattiness. Lord save the poor sod who did her wrong. And there’s even a cowbell to boot.  Here’s a video of Paloma Faith performing Can’t Rely on You in a kitchen. Someone even plays the saucepan….

4)      Beyoncé – Drunk In Love

Beyoncé – Drunk In Love
Beyoncé – Drunk In Love

Beyoncé showcased a new side to her with this trap-influenced depiction of female sexuality which served as the lead single to her self-titled fifth studio album. Queen B has certainly been on fire this year and the crowd is begging for more, with her records selling like nobody’s business. One thing is definitely true, after Drunk in Love nobody will ever look at surfboards in the same way ever again.

3)      Sophie Ellis Bextor – Young Blood

Sophie Ellis Bextor – Young Blood
Sophie Ellis Bextor – Young Blood

As mentioned earlier, the elegant Mademoiselle EB has recently been enjoying renewed success after turning her hand to beautifully crafted piano driven chamber music. It’s mostly due to this beautiful ode to her love for her husband, which serves as an antidote to the over sexualised pop songs which are currently dominating the charts. In this current climate songs like Young Blood are a breath of fresh air and Sophie EB deserves all the success she gets.

2)      Idina Menzel – Let It Go

Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Idina Menzel – Let It Go

This first quarter of 2014 one song has just been growing and growing in popularity, reaching its peak when it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It is of course the wickedly talented Adele Nazim (according to John Travolta https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3ff17im8RQ ) with her empowering anthem Let It Go. The soundtrack to this album has just spent its eighth week on top of the US album charts and has gone on to sell an impressive 1.8 million copies in that market alone. The film Frozen was a massive commercial success as well and several songs off the soundtrack have charted worldwide. There’s no denying this has been one of the runaway successes of 2014.

1)      Clean Bandit – Rather Be

Clean Bandit – Rather Be
Clean Bandit – Rather Be

However, one song has been dominating the UK charts this year spending 4 week at the top and selling an impressive 163,000 copies to become to fastest selling singles released in January since Babylon Zoo – Spaceman. The band came from nowhere with this quirky string dance number and haven’t looked back since. The song also holds the record for the most streams in one week on Spotify in the UK with 1.09 million plays, surpassing previous record holders Daft Punk with Get Lucky. It just goes to show that you can’t beat a mushy love song.

What a great first quarter it has been, so many great tunes. Here’s to the next 3 months of fantastic music. Hope you enjoyed this post and as always feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

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The (Pop)Stars are Out

As I reported in an earlier post, (https://davfarrell1.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/manic-music-monday/) the last month has been rife with epic returns from everyone’s favourite popstars including Lily Allen, Shakira and Rihanna and Paloma Faith. The last three weeks have seen the return of even more of our beloved pop Gods and Goddesses so much that I’m not even going to bother to do a summary because there’s just too many! All I can say is that the stars are definitely out this year!

1)      Kylie Minogue – Into the Blue

Kiss Me Once
Kylie Minogue – Kiss Me Once

No-one embodies the spirit of “unguilty pleasure” as much as our beloved Kylie Minogue. As reported in an earlier post, the unofficial princess of pop has made her triumphant return to pop with what will undoubtedly be one of the smashes of this year Into the Blue, the lead single off her new studio album Kiss Me Once. The track itself is definitely the kind of typically euphoric dance pop fusion which we’ve come to expect from our diminutive pop diva. However, despite its very Kylie-esque sound, Into the Blue somehow manages to straddle the line between being modern and retro allowing her to keep her current fan base, while appealing to a new generation of pop fans. The chorus is relentlessly powerful and beautifully frames those signature Kylie “oooohs” to perfection. Kylie hasn’t sounded this good in years. It’s like a combination of the piano line from her 2007 hit 2 Hearts and her 2010 siren call All the Lovers. In short, Kylie has combined the styles of her last 2 studio albums and fused it to create one massive super sound, the result of which is the timeless power pop sugar rush that is Into the Blue. Watch out for this one. It’s shaping up to be a very Kylie year.

2)      Jennifer Lopez – Same Girl

Jennifer Lopez - Same Girl
Jennifer Lopez – Same Girl

It’s official. JLO is back! And this time she’s going back to her roots. The first bars of Same Girl confirm that she has ditched the high energy club sound of recent hits such as On the Floor, Dance Again and Live It Up in favour of a more retro JLO sound circa 2002, probably a wise decision due to the relative flop of the last two of these singles. Same Girl lyrically is the ultimate rehash with JLO plugging her “realness” despite all her fame and fortune. This is a formula which has taken her to the top of the charts two times previously with the 2001 UK No.4 I’m Real  in which she sings that “what you get is what you see” and the 2002 UK No.3 Jenny From the Block, which saw her asking us not to be “fooled by the rocks that she got”. Actually, if we count the fact that I’m Real was a hit not once but twice (with the help of a Ja Rule remix) and also her 2001 smash Love Don’t Cost a Thing, in which JLO claims that she can’t be bought, then this total goes up to 4. Is that enough to claim that she has a complex?

The irony is that Jennifer Lopez is anything but grounded and this even became a running joke in the media as the materialistic Jenny from the Block clearly left “the Block” behind a long, long time ago. But I’m not here to criticise and actually Same Girl, while not as danceable as some of her recent hits, is a welcome reminder of a time when JLO was untouchable. The strings section is a particular highlight and adds undeserved gravitas to the singers spurious claims of “being the same girl”. The video also sees her wandering around her old neighbourhood “the Bronx” with her “home girls” (I believe that is the politically correct term). The hook “get off of me” and the lyrics of Same Girl itself should appeal to angsty teens who feel everybody is “upon on their grill” (Translation: in their face) and, although it doesn’t offer much new, Same Girl acts as a rallying cry for those who didn’t know or (god forbid) forgot that Jenny was from the block.

And just for old times sake. What a tune:

3)      Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull – I’m A Freak

Enrique Iglesias Feat. Pitbull - I'm a Freak
Enrique Iglesias Feat. Pitbull – I’m a Freak

Things haven’t been going particularly well for Enrique since 2011 after his Pitbull collaboration I Like How It Feels crept into the UK singles chart at a depressingly low No.135. Ouch! The irony is that it sounded like it was going to be another smash hit for the Madrid-born singer. The song followed all the current chart pop trends of throwing in everything and the kitchen sink into a song (as if every listener had ADHD).  But for some reason it wasn’t picked up by the radio stations and failed to make an impact. This was then followed by a string of flops Finally Found You, Turn the Night Up and Heart Attack, all of which should have been smashes but something went wrong. Perhaps the tunes were too generic, perhaps Enrique was trying to follow trends too much and ended up getting lost in the shuffle. Either way, Enrique’s back for another try with the Pitbull-assisted I’m A Freak which does tweak the formula of his latest songs, but essentially just repackages them in a more annoying way. This one seems to have been picked up by radio stations already though and looks to be dead set to be a hit for the singer. But, considering Enrique’s track record, who knows what will happen.

4)      Lady Gaga – Gypsy

Lady Gaga - Gypsy
Lady Gaga – Gypsy

The Artpop era hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as Gaga had hoped. First, Applause was trounced in both the UK and US singles charts by Katy Perry’s Roar. Secondly her album (despite being a transatlantic number one) was declared the lowest selling of her career and thirdly her second single Do What U Want peaked in the lower regions of the UK top 10 and failed to reach the US top ten. This was then followed by fans complaining about the lack of a video for Do What U Want, which Gaga chalked down to time constraints. The video has yet to appear. In short, Gaga’s in need of some serious damage control. Instead of lingering on Do What U Want and making a video, she seems to be pressing ahead with her next single which was recently announced as being Gypsy and will hopefully see her reclaim her former chart glory. Gypsy is definitely one of the strongest songs off Artpop and is definitely a good single choice as it is one of the more linear songs off an otherwise “experimental” album. The soaring chorus is wonderfully immediate but it’s the repetitive “I’m, I’m, I’m a Gypsy” which steals the show and ends up lodging itself in your brain for weeks on end. The lyrics are a bit dodgy “I don’t speak German but I try”, but actually this is the first of the Artpop singles which demonstrates how good a singer Gaga is. Those pipes definitely get a good workout on Gypsy. It’s also good to see Gaga do something a bit more autobiographical as well, with her persona becoming increasingly unrelatable for audiences (Applause has a lot to answer for). Either way, Gypsy is a welcome return to form for a popstar whose bubble had all but burst in recent months.

5)      Miley Cyrus – Adore You

Miley Cyrus - Adore You
Miley Cyrus – Adore You

First of all, I’m not even going to go into depth about the video for this song because, for me, Cyrus’ music is best enjoyed in a non-visual way. I do, however, feel obliged to say a few quick words about the video. As we all know, Cyrus really had nowhere to go but down after her now infamous Wrecking Ball video and down she went. Adore You sees the starlet writhing about in bed sheets in her underwear and simulating bad things. The fact is that the video actually ends up being quite boring so I would recommend not watching it. The song, on the other hand, is another surprisingly well crafted pop song which, like Wrecking Ball, would actually be a classy song in anybody else’s hands. Unfortunately, Cyrus cheapens her own music in order to sell records but don’t let this spoil the song for you. Lyrically, the song is sweet and is best enjoyed with a cup of tea while letting the piano driven beats wash all your cares away leaving you with a lovely fuzzy feeling deep inside. The actual song is chill pop at its finest but will probably be forgotten due to the racy video. It’s a shame really.

6)      Lorde – Team

Lorde's new single
Lorde – Team

I was kind of rooting for Tennis Court to be the next release from Lorde’s debut Pure Heroine but our cynical Queen Bee has spoken and Team has been proffered to radio stations as the second single. Lyrically, the song expresses Lorde’s distaste in common contemporary music which is brilliantly summed up in the line “I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air. So there”. I took the liberty of finding some songs which include said lyric and then realised it wasn’t a hard job at all (slightly proving Lorde’s point):

Boom Boom Pow – “People in the place! If you wanna get down! Put your hands in the air! will.i.am. drop the beat now!” 

California Girls – “West Coast represent now put your hands up!” 

Party in the USA – “So I put my hands up, they’re playing my song, the butterflies fly away!” 

Single Ladies – “All the single ladies, now put your hands up!”

So there indeed.

Team itself heralds another sure fire transatlantic smash for the still 17 year old New Zealander. This is one of the tracks on which her Lana Del Rey influence is most evident, but Lorde takes up a notch from the minimalistic Royals, meaning that Team is not simply a rehash but instead a unique hand clapping jam with its own lyrical and sonical merits. Expect to be hearing this one for a while.

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Pop Week Roundup

Yeehah! (Sorry) It’s time for this week’s pop roundup featuring all the pop news from the past week (and a few cheeky pop discoveries made by yours truly). If you love hearing about all the latest pop releases and triumphant (or not so triumphant) returns of pop artists, you’ve come to the right place.

Paloma Faith back with new album
Paloma Faith

1)      First up, Paloma Faith’s back! Or should be very soon. A steamy teaser video in Italian was uploaded to her official website this week, which to be honest doesn’t really tell us anything but implies a sexier new image revamp (hope you haven’t gone over to the dark side Paloma). The 32-year old is looking amazing as always and apparently we can expect a bit more of an upbeat style from her new album which is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser.

http://www.palomafaith.com/

Ellie Goulding -  Goodness Gracious
Goodness Gracious Album Cover

2)      Ellie Goulding released the video to her new single Goodness Gracious this week. The playful video shows her frolicking with friends and having what appears to be loads of fun, but it’s the use of colour that really makes this video worth watching. Plus there’s a great dance off between Ellie and some random guy at the 1:36 mark. Ellie won (but I would say that). Oh yeah and the tunes good too. Either way you may as well get used to it as it’s a dead cert to do the rounds around the clubs. Plus she looks lovely on the artwork. I want to go to that Masquerade Ball!

Elsewhere in Ellie world, her sophomore album Halcyon Days finally got to number one last Sunday on its 65th week on the chart. Screw the hare, tortoise all the way!

Christina Perri back with new single Human
Christina Perri – Human

3) Christina Perri (a.k.a the queen of the depressing heartfelt ballad) released her come back single Human taken from her new album Head or Heart last Saturday. It’s pretty much in the same vein as previous hits like Thousand Years and Jar of Hearts and it comes with a minimalistic video which I guess represents her naked emotions or is that reading too much into it…? Might be a grower this one.

The Fray - Love Don't Die
Love Don’t Die

4) In other news, similarly depressing band The Fray are back who you might remember from the bleak hits How to Save a Life and the You Found Me. However, the band’s new tune Love Don’t Die (despite the name) is a bit of a change of tact as it’s actually quite upbeat and is quite reminiscent of One Republic’s Counting Stars. While it’s not quite as catchy as that hit, this is quite a good comeback for The Fray. The singer is trying and failing to rock the bald look though, which could be a deal breaker.

5)      Anyone remember Alphabeat? It has been a while since their No.6 2008 smash Fascination and, let’s be honest, the Danish group’s fortunes haven’t been great after their 2013 album Express Non-Stop failed to enter the UK charts. Perhaps, because of this Stine Bramsen (the girl from the band) has decided to record some solo material and to get the ball rolling has uploaded a live performance of her first single Prototypical on to YouTube. The song itself is surprisingly good and its stomping bass line is reminiscent of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. Let’s hope all her solo stuff is like this.

Stine Bramsen - Prototypical
Stine Bramsen – Prototypical
Kylie Minogue new album
Kylie Minogue

6)      Kylie is well and truly back! The diminutive pop princess has finally returned after a long absence from the pop scene. In a week filled with Kylie news first we were told that Kylie will be a new judge on the panel of The Voice (I might even bother to watch it this season) and then she announced that her new single is called Into the Blue and will be released March 16. Let’s hope it’s another smash for the Australian diva.  As the music is not yet available, why not enjoy some vintage Kylie to get us excited:

7)

Shakira and Rihanna - Can't Remember to Forget You
Shakira and Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

 If this doesn’t start the year off in a big way, nothing will. Shakira is back! And what’s more, she’s teamed up with none other than monster hit maker Rihanna on a track called Can’t Remember to Forget You. This might just be the single of the year already (if it’s not I will be sorely disappointed). Either way it’s bound to be a massive diva off of insane proportions. The track debuts on Monday but for those of us who don’t like waiting, why not enjoy the last time Shak dueted with a global super songstress.

8)      Aloe Blacc is back! Of course, he technically hasn’t been away for very long as he was featured on Aviccii’s 2013 global smash Wake Me Up, but this is his first solo single in ages taken from his Wake Me Up EP which features 5 new songs including an acoustic version of the Aviccii hit and his new single The Man. On first listen the song it becomes clear that the single samples the line “You can tell everybody” from the Elton John classic to great effect, freshening up the 44 year old lyrics (bloomin’ eck that’s an old song). Blacc is clearly aiming for epic on this single with a soul choir joining in two thirds of the way through and to be honest he pulls it off, mostly….

Aloe Blacc - The Man
Aloe Blacc – The Man

9)      While this next song will definitely not seem like news to American readers, I have a duty to inform my fellow Brits that Christina Aguilera has teamed up with new band called A Great Big World to create the beautiful, heartfelt ballad Say Something. Aguilera hasn’t sounded this restrained and classy on a track in ages and it’s reminiscent of the good old days or Beautiful and The Voice Within. Say Something has already been a smash across the pond but has yet to reach the UK. I predict big things though as it seems that lately whenever Christina hooks up with another artists, the product is nailed on to be a massive smash hit (Moves Like Jagger, Feel this Moment), pity about her solo career though….

A Great Big World Feat. Christina Aguilera - Say Something
A Great Big World Feat. Christina Aguilera – Say Something

10)   While Unconditionally proved to be one of Katy Perry’s lowest charting singles in a long time, her follow up single Dark Horse is already making waves in the USA, having reached a peak of number 6 this week (well outstripping Unconditionally already). This has been one of my faves of Prism since I first heard it and I’m very happy about the reaction that it’s receiving in America. Let’s hope it’ll be a similar sized smash in the UK as well!

Katy Perry - Dark Horse
Katy Perry – Dark Horse

 

That’s it for this weeks pop chart roundup. Thanks for reading and as always if you have any thoughts feel free to leave a comment below.