The Best Songs of 2014: 100-81

Join me as I progressively count down the top 100 songs of 2014. It’s been a very varied and interesting year in the world of pop. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see who has been kicking major ass this year! Let’s get into it:

100) Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)

The Voice must have breathed a sigh of relief when the first of its alumni Becky Hill managed to bag a UK no.1 single when futuristic house track “Gecko (Overdrive)” soared to the top spot in June. You could barely step into a club in 2014 without hearing her power vocals layered with these blotchy deep house beats.

99) The Script – Superheroes

It’s actually hard not to be inspired by “Superheroes”, the lead single from the Scripts latest studio album No Sound Without Silence. It has all the hallmarks of another epic Script classic.

98) Rixton – Me and My Broken Heart

New kids on the block British boy band Rixton notched up their first UK No.1 single when “Me and My Broken Heart” soared to the top of the charts in the summer. They also managed to infiltrate the notoriously difficult US charts with this incessantly catchy number.

97) MKTO – Classic

Californian duo MKTO bagged their first international top 30 smash this year with the irrepressibly sunny “Classic”. It effortlessly channels the Jackson Five and old school soul.

96) Charli XCX – Break the Rules

What a year Charli XCX has had! After the success of “Boom Clap” came the trashy, raucous “Break the Rules” which took pop back to school. It may have not managed to match her previous singles success but it certainly caused an impression with its rebellious electropunk style.

95) CHVRCHES – Recover

Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES are another act who have had an incredible year. Their debut album The Bones of What You Believe has been a slow-burning transatlantic smash, churning out distinctive electropop tunes left, right and centre. The 2014 re-release of “Recover” may not have set the charts alight but it did manage to reinfect us with its sheer catchiness all over again. Just when we were about to recover….

94) Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious

Ellie somehow managed to reach new realms of amazingness in 2014 and part of that is due to the high-pitched, hyper energetic “Goodness Gracious” which was released as the second single from the repackaged version of Halcyon Days and managed to push the studio set back to No.1 in January. Beats don’t get much bouncier than this.

93) Tiesto Feat. Matthew Koma – Wasted

2014 has proved to be a big commercial comeback year for Dutch DJ Tiesto who has managed to notch up not 1 but 2 global smashes with “Red Lights” and “Wasted”. The shout along chorus of “Wasted” was practically inescapable all summer and served as the soundtrack to many a summer festival.

92) Duke Dumont Feat. Jax Jones – I Got U

Capitalising on Whitney nostalgia, Duke Dumont managed to secure himself a consecutive No.1 single when he released the first song of the summer “I Got U” in March. Steel drums, chilled vocals, layed-back synths. What’s not to like?

91) Becky G – Shower

Having been knocking on the door of global success for a while, Becky G finally crossed over in 2014 with the Dr. Luke (Ke$ha, GRL) produced “Shower” which became her first charting solo single. “Shower” managed to go top 20 in the US and chart throughout Europe. I’m sure someone’s singing it in the shower right now.

90) Fuse ODG Feat. Sean Paul – Dangerous Love

British-Ghanaian singer-rapper Fuse ODG was no stranger to commercial success, having bagged himself two UK top ten singles in 2013 alone. But upon release “Dangerous Love” became his biggest hit to date and successfully brought African beats back in a big way, securing its place on the radio waves all summer long.

89) Calvin Harris Feat. Ellie Goulding – Outside

This probably deserves to be higher on the list but seeing as its fairly new I think it still needs a bit of time to mature. It’s essentially “I Need Your Love” part two but probably better or, if not, just as good. Ellie’s ethereal, almost spooky vocals bring this tune to a new level and Calvin’s beats are typically euphoric. One for the gym playlist for years to come.

88) George Ezra – Blame it on Me

George Ezra kind of just crept up on us didn’t he? Soon after the runaway smash “Budapest” came  “Blame It On Me” which also cracked the UK top 10. His bellowing, bassy tones are used to even greater effect on “Blame it On Me” which retains the organic feel of his previous hits without sacrificing one iota of catchiness.

87) Jessie Ware – Tough Love

After a highly critically acclaimed debut album Jessie Ware managed to get her first top 40 single with “Tough Love” this summer which stood out among the glut of EDM bangers for its spacious, unhurried nature. Jessie’s hallmark breathless yet soothing vocals were also back in force to make this one of her best songs to date.

86) Lily Allen – Air Balloon

Lily may have not had the comeback she wanted this year, with her third studio effort Sheezus falling well short of her previous albums in terms of sales. But, while the album may have been hit and miss, the singles were pure genius. “Air Balloon” is just pure pop at its best. It may not boast the snappy, satirical lyrics that were used to from Allen but its MIA-esque kookiness and synth-hooks were more than enough to keep us listening in 2014.

85) Azaelia Banks – Chasing Time 

Let’s face it. We had all written off Azaelia Banks as the foul mouthed, aggressive bitch that she comes across as on Twitter. But the flash release of “Chasing Time” and its parent album Broke with Expensive Taste a few weeks ago managed to redeem the singer’s ailing career by reminding us why we fell in love with the 212 rapper in the first place.

84) Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Love Is A Camera

After a star turn on last year’s Strictly Come Dancing Sophie Ellis-Bextor decided to switch up the game in 2014 by taking a completely new musical direction. Her fifth studio album Wanderlust was released in January and has proved to be her most successful in years. The third single “Love is a Camera” is a masterpiece of chamber music, featuring a baroque tango vibe and a killer breakdown at the end.

83) Hozier – Take me to Church

Irish singer Hozier burst out of nowhere to take us to church and back with his debut single. Arguably capitalising on the popularity of Imagine Dragons’ sound in 2013 he emerged as their immediate successors late this year and grabbed himself a shock worldwide smash with the epic, stomping “Take Me to Church”.

82) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

“I Blame Myself” is probably one of the more poppier moments on Sky’s debut studi album Night Time, My Time, which is by the way one of the best albums I have heard ever. “I Blame Myself” was taken as the second single in summer 2014 and shows the singer accepting her negative public image and even blaming herself for it. Refreshingly honest.

81) La Roux – Uptight Downtown

It was a hell of a long wait for La Roux’s sophomore album but it was definitely worth it. Trouble in Paradise may be on the light side with only 9 tracks but there’s not a dud on it. “Uptight Downtown” was the lead single and kicks off the album in style with a 70’s disco beat.

Join me next time for the next installment of this years top 100 best songs!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment

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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 Weekly Prediction

ImageGather round dearies as Diary of a Pop Fan’s resident Pop Fortune Teller predicts five brand spanking new pop hits specifically for you lovely readers. I can read your palm afterwards if you want as well (so it’s a win-win situation):

1) Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

After the Pharrellicious “Can’t Rely On You” Paloma is back with the second single off her album A Perfect Contradiction, which was just confirmed as having gone Gold for sales of over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” is an immediate standout track from the album so it’s no wonder Paloma wanted it as her second single, and to top it off, the single has already entered the charts at No.50 well ahead of release. On “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” Paloma shows us the meaning of subtlety. She does have a tendency to over-sing slightly so it’s nice to see her giving a restrained vocal performance. In fact, it’s only at the two minute mark when Paloma ramps up the volume and shows us what she can do, with her vocals soaring over the brass accompaniment. The production of the song is very throwback, channelling Mowtown classics and making good use of horns and trumpets. Ladies and Gentlemen Miss Paloma has done it again.

2) Ella Henderson – Ghost

Ella Henderson – Ghost
Ella Henderson – Ghost

Little Ella Henderson has come a long way since she crashed out of the X Factor in the 7th round after losing the sing off to future winner and now-banned-from-Twitter loudmouth James Arthur. For starters she’s taken time to grow up a bit (when we saw her on the X Factor she was but a mere girl of 16) and chosen to take her time over her debut. Now she has matured into a confident 18 year old and has come back all guns blazing. There is a very epic Adele-ish vibe about her single “Ghost”. Perhaps it’s the soulful vocals? The Ryan Tedder production (he also co-wrote Leona’s “Bleeding Love”)? The gospel-inspired sing-a-long chorus? Or maybe it’s just one of the rare times when lightning strikes, everything comes together and an amazing song is born. One listen to that “Give up the ghost/ no more haunting” breakdown is all the confirmation you need! Friggin’ awesome.

3) G.R.L. – Ugly Heart

G.R.L
G.R.L. – Ugly Heart

G.R.L is an American, Canadian, British girlband who are set to be big in 2014 having bagged a guest feature on Pitbull’s new single “Wild Wild Love” (which is also worth a look). I came across this “Ugly Heart” on my beloved PopJustice (which is a great source for any dedicated pop fan) and fell in love with it almost immediately. It’s ever so slightly country tinged, which is perfect in this post Avicii poposphere and it manages to recreate the urgency of the Swedish megastar’s hit “Wake Me Up”. This group is definitely one to watch. “Ugly Heart” is at the top of the Pop Fortune Teller’s playlist at the minute!

4) Lily Allen – Our Time

Lily Allen
Lily Allen – Our Time

Lily Allen is back with her third single from her upcoming album Sheezus, which is out 5th May. “Our Time” is certainly a change of tact for the typically outspoken songstress and it’s a gentle reminder of Lily’s softer side, which has been pushed to one side following in-you-face singles “Hard out Here” and “Air Balloon”. It’s a welcome change as Lily has been coming off a bit crass for a while on Twitter and other social media and, as a result, her album campaign was in danger of sinking before it had even begun. Luckily, “Our Time” is just the life preserver she needed. While it’s unlikely to set the charts on fire as its one of her more understated efforts, it probably will be another top 20 for Allen and might give her album the breath of life it needs ahead of release.

5) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

Sky Ferreira - I Blame Myself
Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

This woman seems to be going from strength to strength and her profile is increasing by the day. For those of you who do not know, Sky Ferreira is an American singer songwriter from Los Angeles, California who just released her debut album Night Time, My Time in the UK a few weeks ago. “I Blame Myself” is the second single off the album and shows off the singer’s best qualities: her knack for a catchy hook, her gritty vocals and self-recognition (on the track she acknowledges that she is responsible for her public image, such as when she was arrested for a drug incident in late 2013). “I Blame Myself” will hopefully manage to give Sky and her music some well-deserved exposure and with tunes of this quality, who could argue with that.

So that’s it for the Pop Fortune Teller’s Weekly Predictions this week. I warn ye to take heed of her words because if you don’t, it may be the last thing you do.

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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

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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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Manic Music Monday

You’d never get that Monday morning feeling ever again with these guys to keep you company. A multitude of stars have decided to release new music on this hallowed day 13 January. Shakira and Rihanna finally premiered their long awaited duet Can’t Remember to Forget You (do I detect a hint of ska). Lea Michele has debuted another single from her forthcoming debut album and this time it’s the title track from Louder. Lily Allen’s new single Air Balloon debuted on radio one. Paloma Faith released her new Pharrell-produced single Can’t Rely On You.

Here’s a run down of all the new music released today with a few recent releases thrown in for good measure:

1) Lea Michele – Louder

The third promotional single to be released from Lea Michele’s album Louder. Hmmm…haven’t made my mind up about this one yet. I can see it being catchy though.

2) Lea Michele – Battlefield.

The second promotional single to be released from her debut album. It takes the form of a heartfelt ballad which sees the talented songstress stretching her pipes to full whack. Classy.

3) Sophie Ellis Bextor – Birth Of An Empire

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A Spanish radio station leaked a song from Madamoiselle EB’s forthcoming fifth album Wanderlust. The song is just as much of a diversion from Sophie’s previous sound as her previous single Young Blood but it suits her to a T. There’s a mystical Arabic vibe going on there as well which adds to the epicness of the whole song. Thanks Spanish radio. Sorry Sophie.

http://www.popelera.net/birth-of-an-empire-tema-nuevo-de-sophie-ellis-bextor/

4) Shakira and Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You

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Finally!!!! It seems like just yesterday that this songs release was announced but every second since then has been torture. Luckily, the track doesn’t disappoint (at least in my opinion) and manages to combine both Shakira and Rihanna’s unique identities without either outshining the other. Rihanna’s brought her Barbadian/Caribbean voice out here and uses it to full effect. There is no competition here, just pure amazingness all wrapped up in one song.

Shakira featuring Rihanna – ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You’

5) Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

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Following her teaser video released last week, Paloma has gone the whole hog and released the video to her new funky stomper Can’t Rely on You. When I heard that Paloma was working with Pharrell I must admit I was nervous. Perhaps he would corrupt her as he corrupted the once Michael Buble-like innocence of Robin Thicke. But luckily Can’t Rely On You is all Paloma. Pharrell’s stamp is evident by the production but this doesn’t obstruct Paloma’s signature style. This is possibly the best of all the tracks released this week. I feel your pain Paloma. I just pity the fool who would dare do you wrong.

6) Lily Allen – Air Balloon

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Well….didn’t see this coming. After the hard hitting Hard Out Here failed to hit hard on the charts peaking at a disappointing no.9 and dropping quickly, while Somewhere Only We Know rode high at no.1, Allen seems to have gone in completely the opposite direction. The production, the message, the singing is much more reminiscent of her old sing song style. Air Balloon is at first listen, hugely annoying, as Lily herself admits:

http://www.craveonline.com/music/articles/629441-listen-lily-allens-self-proclaimed-annoying-new-song-air-balloon

But beware, it’s infectious. That na na na na na na will bury itself deep into your cranium and refuse to leave. You’ve been warned.

It’s just another Manic Monday after all. Here’s to many more of them