The BILLCS New Music Report is six editions deep already, and I must say that I’ve been pleased with the positive reaction to the new format. I can review more new music – usually, like this week, 10 songs in a week – and can better manage my time to prepare it all for you.
On that note, I’m taking a week’s vacation beginning on Saturday December 3 and will return on Saturday December 10, so there will be no BILLCS New Music Report next Wednesday. It will return on Wednesday December 14. But I will have a new BILLCS Top 30 chart blog for you, three days earlier than usual, on Friday December 2!!
You can also read about my pick of the week, along with picks from online radio buddies “Big Daddy” Russ Horton and Hunter Wilbur. “The Musicman” James Rogers offers a varied selection from 1984-85 in his Classic Five pop hits. Plus I list the BILLCS Top 30 #1’s for each year from 1998 to 2021!
The BILLCS New Music Report is a work-in-progress and I welcome your suggestions so feel free to contact me @billcs on Twitter @thebillcs on Instagram or @BILLCSMusicProjects on Facebook.
TAILS, BENJI LEWIS, “is that ok?”
“is that ok?” taps into a lot familiar melodic electronic and guitar sounds, but ends up being a substantially unique electronic alt.pop release from Vancouver producer Tails (aka Spencer Reid). I enjoy how uncomplicated “is that okay?” sounds but yet you can hear all of the work that went into it. Australian singer Benji Lewis’ emotive vocal taps into the longing and nostalgia that happens when you’ve had a good romantic experience with someone, but in the end it just didn’t click. So “is that ok?” ends up being a rhetorical song title but a reassuring song about being perfectly fine with retaining feelings and memories for someone, which help make us all better people. “is that ok?” comes from Tails’ forthcoming EP called (unannounced).
EDEN PRINCE, KAREN HARDING, “Last Christmas”
Wham!’s essential holiday song “Last Christmas” is given a tidy house rework by British producer Eden Prince and the sensational Karen Harding. They don’t rely on the original very much and that’s what makes their take on “Last Christmas” really shine. It features one of Karen’s best vocals in a while, loaded with the heartfelt longing at the holiday season that’s conveyed by George Michael’s lyrics. So if you’re looking for something contemporary to perk up your evening playlist of Christmas songs, Eden Prince and Karen Harding’s rendition of “Last Christmas” is positively swoon-worthy.
APOLLO LTD, “Run”
Nashville duo Apollo LTD released one of my favourite albums of 2019, Out Of Body, so it’s nice to catch up with them again with “Run”, thanks to hearing it on my friend Hunter’s online radio show. Reminiscent of their own “On The Way Up 2.0” (which peaked at #4 on the BILLCS Top 30) as well as artists like Bastille or Imagine Dragons, “Run” is a joyous new, richly produced fist-pumping anthem with a commanding vocal that shows Jordan Phillips and Adam Stark have not let up these past few years and after the release of another album, Nothing Is Ordinary Everything Is Beautiful. Let’s hope that “Run” is the start of another fine string of new music from this talented duo.
TheFatRat, EVERGLOW, “Ghost Light”
“Ghost Light” is an intriguing new track that steps away from the regular melodies and rhythms that you find in most of today’s dance tracks, and offers something funky, mysterious, and anthemic instead. German electronic dance producer TheFatRat is no stranger to experimentation, and this time he veers towards trap sounds with vocals by K-Pop sextet Everglow. It all works out beautifully, with Everglow’s supercharged vocals luring you to follow the song’s theme of desire. “Ghost Light” is a big win for both artists but especially for K-Pop fans, and the melody of the chorus is destined to get stuck in your head.
ALTÉGO, “I Wanna Know”
Many of you already know ALTÉGO, the UK-based producer/DJ’s otherwise known as twins Lukas and Michael Fernandes-Pendse, from their entertaining Instagram and TikTok posts, which led to a surprise radio hit earlier in the year with their mashup of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Ginuwine’s “Pony”, as “Toxic Pony”. And though they prove their infectious creativity over and over again with their mashups, “I Wanna Know” sets them in original recording territory, and they have lots of pedigree help. First, the music of “I Wanna Know” is based on CHIC’s 1980 release “Soup For One”, so it’s already got a zesty groove which they build upon. Next, co-writing the song with the boys are UK luminaries like Karen Harding and Lewis Thompson, and it’s eminently singable. The *yawn* pitched-down vocals are the only stumbling point and a regular singing voice could have made “I Wanna Know” really fly. Nevertheless, it’s still an above-average release and could help put ALTÉGO on the charts after some successful live performances this year in the UK.
LF SYSTEM, “Hungry (For Love)”
Scottish duo LF System have a hard act to follow – their massive hit “Afraid To Feel” (which peaked at #3 on the BILLCS Top 30) was #1 in the UK for eight weeks. Just as “Afraid To Feel” tapped into lesser known 70’s soulful R&B with a female vocal, “Hungry (For Love)” pivots towards obscure disco, again with an outstanding female vocalist, although it’s one that has a key name behind it. The song revolves around samples from “Hungry” by Sandy’s Gang, which was co-written and produced by the recently departed and renown disco producer Patrick Adams. So “Hungry (For Love)” stands as a fine, if perhaps unintended, tribute to Patrick while being a smart fusion of electronica and disco that will rev up club goers. At only 2:09, it’s a quick but loaded shot of a good time.
LAUREN MAYHEW, ANGELO BASHAM, “I’m Living”
It’s always awesome to see two artists that I’ve written about separately getting to collaborate together. Florida multi-talent Lauren Mayhew and German dance producer Angelo Basham join forces with the deep house banger “I’m Living”. Lauren’s versatile voice always works wonders in a house music setting, and Angelo’s precision production and rich synth work flesh out the song into an inviting and club-worthy release. Let “I’m Living” start off your weekend party soundtrack – definitely one to cue up for New Year’s Eve!
TWO FRIENDS, BRYCE VINE, “Graduated”
I was surprised it actually hadn’t happened yet, but Two Friends and Bryce Vine collaborating together are like three peas in a pod. Their release together “Graduated” has an irresistible, singalong chorus – something that’s becoming a trademark of Two Friends releases – and it’s carried by Bryce’s laid back, personable, WSIWYG vocal. Two Friends recently peaked at #9 with “Timebomb” (with Mod Sun) on the BILLCS Top 30, and continue to make amiable anthems that go down easy in their Big Booty mixes and in concert.
LOLA DUTRONIC, “The Christmas Disco”
What’s there not to love about a song called “The Christmas Disco” by those Canadian-German purveyors of infectious dance tunes, Lola Dutronic? This re-release (originally from a few years back) is well-timed for the first fully celebratory holiday season since 2019, a light, fun song meant to be your companion piece when you decide to slip on those platform shoes, your Christmas party cap, and grab a glass of bubbly or two. And if you have a disco mirrorball or colourful party lights, then you are all set! “The Christmas Disco” is a pleasing alternative to those repetitive Christmas classics. It follows up Lola Dutronic’s “Let’s All Dance (Our Last Summer)”, which recently peaked at #9 on the BILLCS Top 30.
MARK LEE, “Christmas Time Is Here”
“Christmas Time Is Here” is an awesome choice for a cover of the modern day holiday classic that doesn’t get enough attention. Its origins of course are in Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the 1965 TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Mark Lee, Georgia Music Hall of Fame member formerly of the Grammy-winning band Third Day, does a fine job with capturing the sentiment of the song, though to me it is strangely missing harmonies, which would have given it a big boost and connected it more to the original. But “Christmas Time” is a solid add for your Christmas playlists and guaranteed to attract attention since it’s just not heard often enough.
BILL’S NEW MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK
My New Music Pick of the Week is a 5-7 minute radio segment that airs more than 20 times/week on online radio stations around the world.
Years & Years with a cover of Crystal Waters’ classic “100% Pure Love”
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
“Himalayas” by Vancouver alt.pop singers Elijah Blond & KNOWN and producer KULTARGOTBOUNCE
HUNTER J. WILBUR’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Hunter J. Wilbur is the host of the online radio shows “Modern Hype” and “Addictive Energy” which can be heard on several online stations including Classic Hits Canada. (currently on hiatus till January).
“Memory Lane” by Latvian electronic dance producer Tobu
“THE MUSICMAN” JAMES ROGERS’ CLASSIC FIVE
“The Musicman” James Rogers is the owner and host of The 3D Variety Show heard Tuesdays on Planet Radio Canada. The Classic Five is “pop music 101” of the post-Beatles era – classics you need to know! Each title is linked to a Spotify stream of the song.
This week, songs that helped define 1984-85.
Prince – When Doves Cry
Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You
Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You
Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
24 YEARS OF BILLCS TOP 30 #1’s
Songs that rocked my personal chart at this time during the last 24 years.
1998 YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE New Radicals
1999 THE FUTURE OF THE FUTURE (STAY GOLD) Everything But The Girl with Deep Dish
2000 HERE WITH ME Dido
2001 BLACK BLACK HEART David Usher
2002 SERVE THE EGO (Gabriel & Dresden remix) Jewel
2003 DEEPEST BLUE Deepest Blue
2004 THEY MIGHT SAY Mitchell Hunter
2005 PRETTY VEGAS INXS
2006 FUTURE SEX/LOVE SOUND Justin Timberlake
2007 ME, MYSELF AND (I) Darren Hayes
2008 RELAPSE Jesse McCartney
2009 ALONE Dan Black
2010 RESURRECTION (Penguin Prison remix) The Temper Trap
2011 CAN’T HELP MYSELF (KEEP DANCING) Matt Blue
2012 DON’T YOU WORRY CHILD Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
2013 AN OPEN HEART Bright Light Bright Light
2014 SAY YOU LOVE ME Jessie Ware
2015 HELLO Adele
2016 STARBOY The Weeknd f/ Daft Punk
2017 NEED YOUR HEART Latchmere
2018 PHANTOM OF THE DANCE FLOOR Kiesza featuring Philippe Roy
2019 LIGHTS UP Harry Styles
2020 DIAMONDS Sam Smith
2021 HOLDING ME MORE Darin