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! 

 

Advertisements

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 20-2

20) Florence and the Machine – Ship to Wreck

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

19) Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams

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

18) Chvrches – Leave a Trace

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

17) The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13) Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

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

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

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

11) Years and Years – King

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

10) Little Mix – Black Magic 

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

9) Zara Larsson – Lush Life

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

8) Adele – When We Were Young

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

7) Taylor Swift – Style

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

6) Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

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

5) Adele – Hello

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

4) Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

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

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

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

2) Kygo Feat. Conrad – Firestone 

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

11207290_3962296052894_2366726011604456730_n

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

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

 

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 60-41

Part 3 of the epic countdown of the Best Pop Songs of 2015. Please bear in mind that if you want to listen to any of the tracks there is a hyperlink in the title of the song which will take you directly to YouTube. 🙂 You’re welcome:

60) Janet Jackson – No Sleeep

This quiet storm of a lead single proved Janet has still got whatever “it” may be in spades. A sultry, sensual, slow jam which is so personal it almost feels like we are intruding on a private love scene. Saucy….

59) Enya – Echoes in Rain

Enya returned in style this year with “Echoes in Rain”, the rousing lead single from her latest album. The song has a refreshingly religious sentiment which acts as the perfect antidote to the loose-moraled popstars of today.

58) Drake – Hotline Bling

Mostly just for the moves….

57) Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

Justin’s third UK No.1 single in a row after turning from pantomime villain to respectable artist (well…semi respectable). This Ed Sheeran co-write is a surprisingly bitchy kiss off to a former lover who spent a little too much time looking in the mirror.

56) Galantis – Runaway (U & I)

This euphoric anthem of a track comes courtesy of some of the hottest Swedish producers of 2015. The shout-along chorus is undoubtedly one of the catchiest of the year.

55) James Bay – Let It Go

It’s not always all about the bells and whistles in pop you know and James Bay more than proved that with this moving, delicate ballad packed with loads of heart. The emotional complexity of Bay’s songs is astounding and on “Let It Go” he proves that fragile and strong are not mutually exclusive.

54) Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance

The spiritual heirs to Alphabeat’s throne. Fun, sharp, shamelessly poppy “Shut Up and Dance” was the hit that wouldn’t get out of your heads in 2015.

53) Lana Del Rey – Music to Watch Boys To

Over the years Lana Del Rey’s commercial appeal may have diminished slightly but, in terms of songcraft and lyricism she has definitely upped her game. “Music to Watch Boys To” is a typical Lana-esque track which effortlessly succeeds in painting an otherworldly dreamscape like only the Queen of Despair can.

52) Coldplay – Adventure of a Lifetime

I honestly think Coldplay should have gone disco years ago if “Adventure of a Lifetime” is anything to go by…And it had better not be there last album or there’ll be hell to pay!

51) Florence and the Machine – What Kind of Man

This was just the Florence comeback we needed! First she draws you in with the slow, controlled beginning before descending into full hollering mode with more drama than a Pretty Little Liars episode. “What Kind of Man” is a out and out triumph of a pop song.

50) Jason Derulo – Want to Want Me

He’s been knocking at the door for a few years now but with the slick, poised elegance that is”Want to Want Me” Derulo finally inherited Usher’s throne as the King of Smooth. Long may he reign.

49) Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

Like her or not, Carly Rae Jepsen knows how to write a damn good pop song. She doesn’t try to be cool at all, in fact she is probably the antithesis of the concept, but therein lies the charm. I am genuinely chuffed to bits to declare that “I Really Like You” restored Jepsen to top ten glory worldwide. Just where she should be!

48) Taylor Swift Feat. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

This poison-pen banger earned old Swifty a third US No.1 off 1989 fueled by the explosive, star-studded video featuring the likes of Cara Delevingne and Cindy Crawford to name but a few. Just don’t get on the wrong side of Taylor or you might find out first hand that band aids really don’t fix bullet holes!

47) The Weeknd – Earned It

The Weeknd properly burst into public consciousness in a big way this year with this sultry, slow-burner which featured on the Fifty Shades of Grey Film Soundtrack. Drawing on classical influences and tied up together with some potent strings, “Earned It” was so naughty it was nice.

46) Kygo Feat. Parson James – Stole the Show

Quick to capitalise on the success of his first original single”Firestone” earlier in the year, Kygo managed to score a second worldwide hit and establish himself as one of the most exciting DJs of recent times with this infectious summery jam. He truly “Stole the Show”.

45) Sia – Alive

If there was any shadow of a doubt that Sia is one of the best vocalists of her generation there isn’t anymore. Originally penned for Adele’s comeback album “Alive” is the power ballad to end all power ballads. The world just can’t get enough of Sia’s killer pipes and rightly so.

44) Elle King – Exs and Ohs

Rock ‘n’ roll newcomer Elle King bagged herself a US smash hit with her debut single “Exs and Ohs”towards the end of the year. This gritty little ditty about her ex boyfriends haunting her is the perfect contrast to the overwraught love song. Could even be the new “Independent Women”!

43) Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Talking about her upcoming third studio album Delirium, Ellie Goulding promised us full blown pop and that’s exactly what delivered in spades. lead single “On My Mind” was another international smash and, whether or not it is a dig at Ed Sheeran, it’s clear that sassy definitely suits Ellie.

42) Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Boston-born singer Rachel Platten finally broke through to the mainstream after years of trying with the truly sincere and empowering “Fight Song”. Her lyrics are so honest and autobiographical that you can’t help but root for her. Never stop fighting love.

41) Jess Glynne – Take Me Home

After a slew of upbeat, joyful singles Jess Glynne let us see her vulnerable, side in this candid ballad which solidified her status as one of today’s most versatile and exciting artists.

Please feel free to comment and share. Thank you for reading!

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

 

The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 80-61

Welcome to the second part of Diary of a Pop Fan’s Best Pop Songs of 2015 list. Let’s kick things off with a nice bit of soulful balladeering from Will Young shall we:

80) Will Young – Like A River

“Like A River” may not have been an official single from Will Young’s sixth studio effort 85% Proof but it was certainly the most beautifully understated track on the whole album.  I do love it when songs refuses to follow a traditional verse-chorus structure and on “Like A River” it only helps to intensify the drama on this smoldering, classy production

79) Cheryl – Only Human

Cheryl has produced some thumping good pop tunes over the years but ballads have never been her strong suit…until now. “Only Human” is the title track from Cheryl’s fourth studio album and her most personal effort to date. The Imogen Heap-esque ballad sees the Geordie songstress’ voice layered in vocoder in a not-unlike-Cher cerca 1998 fashion and, interestingly, she has never sounded more sincere.

78) Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly 

For the fourth single from their debut full length album Pharmacy the Swedish newcomers decided to go disco. As a result, “Peanut Butter Jelly” is one of the most explosive and feel good tunes of the year and it stood out on the radio for all the right reasons.

77) DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

DJ Snake’s remix of London duo AlunaGeorge’s debut single breathed new life into the track, making it an international hit and a radio staple all throughout the summer. Like it or not, there was no getting away from that infectious hiccuping beat in 2015.

76) Zedd Feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know

“I Want You to Know” may be a little by numbers but sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This euphoric, joyous pop delicacy comes courtesy of two stars at the top of their respective games and you’d better believe that no one was complaining this pairing.

75) Nicky Jam Feat. Enrique Iglesias – El Perdón

Following on from 2014’s hip-swivelling “Bailando”, Enrique was at it again this year, yet again producing what is undoubtedly THE Spanish language hit of 2015, . “El Perdon” was literally inescapable all summer long.

74) Sara Bareilles – She Used to Be Mine

One of 2015’s most random pop albums came from an unlikely source. Sara Bareilles’ fifth studio album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress actually serves as the soundtrack to the stage adaption of the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film Waitress and lead single “She Used to Be Mine” perfectly encapsulates the main plot in one beautiful, vulnerable four and a half minute song.

73) Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Grande’s My Everything album was chock full of big tunes but for her fourth single she chose to take it down a notch with mid-tempo EDM ballad “One Last Time”. The production is flawless but it’s Grande’s angelic vocals which take centre stage here.

72) Robin Schulz Feat. Ilsey – Headlights

German producer Robin Schulz followed up a stellar 2014 with more entrancing deep house offerings this year. “Headlights”, the first single from his second studio album Sugar and focuses heavily on Isley’s ethereal, soaring vocals.

71) The Weeknd – The Hills

The Weeknd kept surprising us throughout 2015 and “The Hills” is a prime example of why he is one of the freshest things in pop right now. The spooky track somehow manages to combine hammer horror style screams with The Weeknd’s silky falsetto to create a something truly original and not to mention sexy.

70) Enya – Even In the Shadows

Irish songbird Enya is one of the biggest selling artists ever, having sold an estimated 80 million albums worldwide. After a lengthy 7 year absence, Enya returned this winter with her eight studio album Dark Sky Island which was met with universal praise and returned her to the top 10 across the globe. “Even In the Shadows” is shining example of Enya’s ability to transport the listener to another world and fits neatly into her already existing opus.

69) David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj & Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

We always knew that an Afrojack and David Guetta hook up would be explosive but this four way tag team power tune far exceeded expectations. Tribal wailing never sounded this good!

68) One Direction – Drag Me Down

Among the slew of tears following One Direction’s announcement that they were going on hiatus appeared some of the boyband’s finest work. Made in the AM shakes off the faux rock shtick found  on Midnight Memories and Four in favour of full throttle pop anthems, the best of which is the irresistible lead single “Drag Me Down”.

67) Avicii – Waiting For Love

When I first heard this, I could have sworn it was Chris Martin singing on the track, but it turned out to be Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost doing his best Martin impression. But once I got over that “Waiting for Love” turned out to be one of Avicii’s finest productions to date and features what is probably his stickiest synth line. Delectable.

66) Years and Years – Shine

This 80’s inspired piece of synthpop ensured that the London electronica trio had longevity past their Spring smash hit “King”. Once that huge chorus kicks in you soon fall under “Shine’s” spell and by the time the breakdown comes around, you’ll be begging for more.

65) OMI – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)

Summer 2015’s most ubiquitous tune and one of the highest selling singles of the year. The insanely catchy sax loop on this track just drills into your brain and refuses to let go.

64) Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Norway has been knocking it out of the park the last couple of years in Eurovision but this year they surpassed themselves. “A Monster Like Me” is an intelligent, brooding classic ballad which boasts some of 2015’s most stellar harmonies. Sadly, the Eurovision 3 minute rule  does this haunting masterpiece an injustice. I could have done with another 2 minutes at least!

63) Iggy Azalea Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

This jaunty piano jam continued Iggy’s chart dominance into 2015. Her slick, punchy verses marry well with Jennifer’s sassy, soulful choruses. It’s good to hear good ol’ Hudders on the radio again after a series of recent flops.

62) Madonna – Joan of Arc

Not the best year for Madonna by any stretch of the imagination. Her comeback album Rebel Heart may have been a tad patchy but, when it was good, it was very good and “Joan of Arc” is a prime example of this. It’s one of Madonna’s most autobiographical songs and affords us a rare glimpse of vulnerability from the material girl.

61) Leona Lewis – Thunder

After breaking free from the gilded cage that was Simon Cowell’s record label, a newly liberated Leona Lewis burst free from her shackles and made a glorious comeback with this fighter anthem. She may have gone through the wringer to get to this point, but her music is all the better for it.

 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

The Best 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.