The Brit Awards 2016: Everything you need to know

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

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

BRIT Awards 2016 Performers

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

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

BRIT Awards 2016 Nominations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Group
Blur
Coldplay
Foals
One Direction
Years & Years

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

Critics’ Choice
Jack Garratt
Izzy Bizu
Frances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

TO THE BRITS 2016! 

 

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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.

Bitch Better Have More Bangers

So unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars covered with a particularly potent amnesia-inducing brand of space dust, you will no doubt be aware that Barbadian-megastar Rihanna released her long-awaited album Anti yesterday 28th January 2016 with lead single “Work” being rolled out the previous day. The album, which has been four years in the making, suffered from a slew of setbacks, delays, changes in direction, changes in producer, changes in record label and basically all general mishaps which you can think of. All this saw the release date pushed further and further back to the point where fans were so desperate they were snapping up any social media titbit suggesting that the album might be finished.

Not cool RiRi

Rihanna did treat us to a few singles in 2015 which could have potentially been the lead single from Anti. “FourFive Seconds” was a eagerly snapped up by fans, despite Rihanna’s voice never sounding more screechy or whiny, but reception was generally positive because it seemed that Rihanna was trying a new folksy/acoustic direction with her music which would have been a bold and potentially rewarding career move. Then this theory was blown completely out of the water when she released the crude, brash “Bitch Better Have My Money” whose video was as compelling as it was horrifying. While not as musically daring or interesting as “FourFive Seconds” it did incorporate some zeitgeist elements of trap and a gratifying hip hop beat which could have made a mildly fruitful album. But then we were treated to the insipid “American Oxygen” which showed a more politically-charged side to Rihanna which absolutely no-one asked for. By this point fans were literally tearing their hair out with frustration at the lack of bangers which Rihanna used to be so skilled at making and unsurprisingly “Oxygen” barely made an impact on the charts.

Then we had to endure another long wait for more news about Anti. All signs pointed to a Christmas release but perhaps Adele-fear overtook Rihanna’s record label and they decided not to release the album until now for fear of being overshadowed by the soulful cockney diva. Rihanna’s navy was in total disarray. Girl overboard! Then, out of the deep blue, we hear that Rihanna is going to drop the lead single on Wednesday and all was good in the world again.

Except it wasn’t. It’s not that “Work” is bad but it’s just that it doesn’t compare to her previous lead singles, all of which were complete and utter tunes: “Umbrella”, “We Found Love”, “Diamonds”, “SOS”, “Pon de Replay”, “Only Girl”, even “Russian Roulette” was a slow-burning masterpiece. “Work” sounds like it should have been track 8 on her previous 2012 studio set Unapologetic. For the amount of time she spent cooking Anti we should have got something better. Listening to Anti, it’s clear that Rihanna is trying to reposition herself as a “serious” artist rather than the hit factory she’s been since day one which is absolutely fine! But only if you’re lyrics are thoughtful, considered and you have a clear message and purpose. Heck even Bieber has more of a purpose than Rihanna nowadays and there was more lyrical depth on Rihanna’s previous work such as “Stay” or “Hate that I Love You”. “Work” isn’t even the best motivational song either. That accolade goes to “Work Bitch” whose driving beat makes it is a gym playlist staple.

Rihanna’s “Work” is too slow and lazy to motivate anyone to do that last push up. Rihanna may not have gone off the rails like Britney but she certainly seems to care a lot less about her music nowadays. “Work” will undoubtedly be a smash for Rihanna, having shot straight to no.1 on iTunes throughout the world immediately following its release, but it certainly won’t be able to stand tall among her stellar back catalogue.

Until Rihanna comes to her senses again I prefer to hark back to a time when she was on top of the world. This was truly a shining pop moment of her career when her signature swagger and attitude were beginning to creep in but not to the level where it made her unrelatable:

“Take a Bow” was the first single from the re-release of Rihanna’s third album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded and her 11th single overall. Riding high off the success of danceable smashes “Don’t Stop the Music” and “Umbrella”, Rihanna decided to show her softer side with this heartfelt ballad about a failed relationship with an unfaithful boyfriend. Upon release in early 2008, it became Rihanna’s third number one single in the US and second in the UK. Perhaps the fact that she’s actually singing rather than mumbling “work, work, work, work, work” has something to do with it.

Please work harder next time Rihanna.

If you’re a Glee fan Lea Michele also did an amazing cover of this song in the second episode ever of the now tragically deceased TV series which really put a focus on the theatrical lyrics of “Take a Bow”. You can check that out here:

It goes without saying that this is just my opinion so if you feel differently maybe have a gander at this awesome article by Pop Justice guru Peter Robinson:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/28/up-the-anti-how-rihanna-rewrote-the-rules-of-pop?CMP=share_btn_tw

Also here’s an article reviewing “Work” that’s worth more than a glance: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/work-work-work-work-work-rihanna-drake-single-review-anti/431532/

#INFORMATIONISPOWER

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment, like and share.

 

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 2015 So Far – Part 1

I love this part. It’s that time when I countdown the best songs of the first half of the year. There have been some corkers! Bear in mind that this list only goes up to the end of June so some of your July faves might be missing. That’s for the December second half. Here goes:

55) Kodaline – The One

Kodaline the one

Yeah I know Kodaline are a bit meh. They’re the personification of white bread and most of their music has all the life of a rotting corpse (I thought Irish people were supposed to have some fight in them…) However, once every album, as with “High Hopes” from …In a Perfect World, Kodaline produce an inspirational track that warrants a second glance. It seems that “The One” will be their “special song” from their latest album Coming Up for Air, which honestly is a whole lot of bland nothingness for the most part. The album itself has received a frostier reception than the last which suggests that people are getting bored of being bored and “The One” only managed to crawl into the UK top 40 at a muted No.27. However, I actually feel that “The One” deserves a bit more than that. It takes a few listens but its simple and inspirational message does eventually hit the spot, demonstrating that, despite their overall mediocrity, Kodaline do have something special about them.

54) Clean Bandit – Stronger

clean bandit stronger

New Eyes, Clean Bandit’s debut album, is just the gift that keeps on giving. “Stronger” is the 8th single overall from the album and the 2nd from the winter 2014 reissue. This includes one massive number one in the form of the megahit “Rather Be”, three top five hits “Real Love”, “Extraordinary”, “Stronger”.  It’s a wonder it isn’t the biggest bloody album ever! “Stronger” just adds to the group’s status as one of the biggest dance bands in the UK right now. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the radio in the best possible way as it certainly doesn’t sound remotely like anything else in the charts right now, which can only be a good thing.

53) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman

Noel Gallagher's high flying birds riverman

I didn’t even bother listening to any of Noel Gallagher’s band’s first album for many reasons:

– I was still upset Oasis had broken up.

– The band’s name is utterly idiotic. I mean who calls their band “high flying birds”. What does that even mean?

– I was sick to death of his sheer douchebaggedness (I coin this word for Diary of a Pop Fan).

But now I’m actually regretting it as the few songs that I’ve heard from his latest album are actually quite good. “Riverman” is definitely a highlight for me. It’s unpretentious, timeless and full of individual character. The lyrics are given space to breathe as the relaxed guitar chords and brass wash over the listener. I’m full team Noel now!

52) Madonna – Living For Love

madonna living for love

It’s unfortunate but when I think of this song I can’t help replaying Madonna’s disastrous Brit Awards fall over and over in my head. The memes are just so funny it’s hard to resist. If you haven’t seen it, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!! Check it out and let the mirth spiral forth:

There’s also a “This is Sparta” version which is a must see:

So now we’ve got that unfortunate incident out of the way, we can move on to other issues. The marketing was weird. Too purposely provocative. The song has nothing to with bullfighting but she inexplicably decided to dress as a matador for the song’s video as some kind of protest. Keep out of it Madge! The promo was also marred by the songs early leak which led to its low chart positions around the world. Without a big lead single, the album underperformed and Madonna chose to lower herself to cheap gimmicks such as flashing her bum at the 2015 Grammy awards. I mean really… how the Queen has fallen.

The whole thing is a massive crying shame as Rebel Heart is actually her best album in a decade. There are still a few absolute stinkers on it but the good definitely outweighs the bad in this case. Unfortunately that means that Madonna has had two flop-ish (for her standards) albums in a row now, after the atrocity that was MDNA. How many more can she afford?

51) Becky G – Can’t Stop Dancing

becky g cant stop dancing

Becky definitely released this song in the wrong season. Instead of winter, she should have timed this for summer release as it is one of those irrepressible Latino influenced tracks that you tend to hear on your holidays in Spain all summer long. She kind of missed that boat. Either way, she managed to brighten up my January and simultaneously show her diversity. By the way, doesn’t she sound (and even look) a bit like Selena Gomez in this video?

50) Ariana Grande – One Last Time

ariana grande one last time

Grande can do no wrong right now. Her album “My Everything” is proving to be a greatest hits all of its own, churning out smash after smash. Every song could be a potential single, which is reminiscent of Rihanna’s Loud or Good Girl Gone Bad albums before she got kooky and experimental. “One Last Time” is the latest in a line of top tunes which could have easily been released as the first single from My Everything. Ariana’s vocals soar to unimaginable heights and the drum beat rhythm lends the whole song a furious pace. As end of the world jams go, it’s definitely up there with Britney’s “Till the World Ends”.

49) Rihanna Feat. Kanye West and Paul McCartney – Four Five Seconds

Rihanna Feat. Kanye West and Paul McCartney – Four Five Seconds

Believe me, I was excited as anyone about Rihanna’s return to music. I was expecting a glittering, glamourous “We Found Love”-esque anthem, or at least something of “Diamonds” standard. However, when I heard she was going a bit more folksy I was ready to embrace the new direction too. But what the hell is “FourFiveSeconds”. Yelpy vocals that make your ears split. Awkward lyrics such as “I’m about to spazz” (Thanks Kanye….) and what the hell is “wildin’”. What does that even mean!? Also, the pointless feature by Paul McCartney. He adds absolutely zero, except a little bit of credibility. The whole thing is a faux attempt to seem deep and meaningful when if you actually listen to the lyrics it means nothing! I wish she would stay how she was because at least then she knew she was singing about nothing. Plus, we all know it would be better without Kanye. Everything is better without Kanye…

However, the chorus is undeniably catchy and it has been a massive hit throughout the world so I have included it on the list to keep the mobs with pitchforks at bay. Let’s hope RiRi has something better up her sleeve than this (hint: “Bitch Better Have My Money” will no do…)

48) Nicki Minaj feat. Skylar Grey – Bed of Lies

Nicki minaj skylar grey bed of lies

This song is music to my ears, both physically and metaphorically. The blend of Skylar’s sweeter than candy hook and Minaj’s gritty rap is pitch perfect and the message of the song also strikes a chord. Minaj may be a very polarising character but she is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making accomplished pop songs.

47) Sigma Feat. Labrinth – Higher

sigma labrinth higher

What is love? An eternal question and one which British drum ‘n’ bass group Sigma address on their latest smash “Higher”. Starting with a tribal chanting “Higher” lives up to its name, rising into a soaring, drama-soaked chorus which leaves you thirsting for more even after it fades out.

46) The Weeknd- Earned It

The Weeknd Earned it

Some creative instrumentation affords this breakout hit by the Weeknd endless, oozing drama and sensuality. His voice sounds like melting chocolate and is ten times as sinful. Overall, the whole song gives the impression of a night out at the opera with a fabulous Bond-esque femme fatale on your arm. I think the Weeknd should be commissioned to do the next Bond soundtrack after this, if Adele’s unavailable to do it again of course.

45) Ella Eyre – Together

ella eyre together

Ella Ella Ella. How do you solve a problem like Ella? She has all the ingredients of a popstar: the diva attitude, the big voice, the big hair. She could be a global star of Beyonce proportions but has yet to produce a top ten hit on her own. Of course she has had massive hits such as “Gravity” and “Waiting All Night” with other artists. She is the go-to-girl for collabs you might say, but that’s not enough. In order to carry an album on her own she needs to produce her own big hit single. So far not so good, her debut “Deeper” crawled into the top 75 and all subsequent singles have been top 20 hits which just missed out on the top 10 and quickly dropped away. In short, she needs a big radio hit. She has the quality tunes but it seems that something isn’t clicking. It seems that her debut album Feline is coming out in August so it seems that after “Together” she will have one more big single opportunity which will undoubtedly be make or break for the album. Let’s hope she gets that hit because, in the words of Ella herself, we are more TOGETHEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRR!

44) DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre – Gravity

dj fresh ella eyre gravity

This girl again! We should change her name to Ella everyw-Eyre!! (sorry…I couldn’t help it). Now this tune was a genuine No.4 smash for the London-born Beyonce usurper. How come she can’t do this on her own? I don’t get it. Anyway, on “Gravity” DJ Fresh takes full advantage of Eyre’s impressive pipes, basically getting her to holler the songs title on repeat for three minutes. Now you can’t really go wrong with that can you?

43) Florence and the Machine – What Kind of Man

Florence and the machine what kind of man

This was something of a notable departure for the flame haired songstress, “What Kind of Man” features a strong guitar line throughout. It takes a while to get going which is the only criticism but once it does…now that’s what I call intensity. Hell hath no fury like a woman scored has never been more appropriate a phrase. It just makes it seem even more ironic that Florence’s new album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was marketed as a stripped down, more subtle effort. I can confirm that that was a whole load of rubbish. But who cares. You don’t go to Florence for a quiet chill.

42) Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance

walk the moon shut up and dance

Right from the first beat “Shut Up and Dance” is loud, bold and chaotic and it never really stops until the last bar. This guitar driven piece of fun-filled pop is the perfect remedy to all the dance hits which have been dominating the charts. There is nothing wrong with them at all! But it’s nice to have the variety and Walk the Moon’s debut single fits into that category rather snugly.

41) Zedd feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know

zedd selena gomez i want you to know

A welcome return for Zedd and a high profile collab with one of the biggest names in pop right now. “I Want You to Know” is one of Zedd’s poppiest efforts but does feature a killer bassline hook which is ideal for fist pumping (I can confirm that from personal experience at Ultra Europe). Lots of lovely floaty imagery as well with the lyrics like “you and me bleed the same light”. Summer euphoria.

Thanks for reading and tune in for the next part! Coming soon.

Feel free to leave any comments.

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 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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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

Image

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

Image

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

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.