There continues to be a significant one! two! three! punch leading my personal chart. Two of those come in the form of soon-to-be-powerhouse Matthew Koma, whose “Parachute” leads the way with “1998” at #3 and a contender for #1 in the coming weeks. Slotted in-between is “Yeah Yeah” by Willy Moon, which seems to be picking up more fans as the weeks go on. “Play The Girl” by Tao Hypah – who has another new song coming for you soon, glides to #4 (video below, if you haven’t yet seen it), while “Time Bomb (Walk Away)”, my choice for single #2 from Chris Wallace’s Push Rewind album, moves up to #5. Chris seems to be popping up everywhere in the USA; an L.A. show is on deck.
You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can clickright here. You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page. Any free downloads that are identified are sanctioned by the performer. There’s always a tiny place at the bottom of the blog post with tags and the statement “Leave A Comment” – please feel free to do so
Making news in these pages again but this time on the chart is Toronto band River Tiber (pic at the top of this page), whose second album Synapses is available for free download from their website. In it you will find the song now at #10, “What Are You Afraid Of”, but becoming a huge deal with a debut at #6 is far and away one of the most unique songs of 2013, “The City”. I can’t provide you with a link to hear it online, so you’ll just have to take my word for it 😉 but perhaps Tommy Paxton-Beesley will offer something up in the near future 😀 Nevertheless, it’s a quiet but heartfelt song about moving on, set to a nifty electronic backdrop. River Tiber played an excellent set at The Drake Hotel on January 7 to an unexpected packed room. It’s amazing how far River Tiber has come since I saw them during Canadian Music Week in a 3 a.m. show.
Bim’s gorgeous and emotional “Burn” rises to #9 this week, while “O.V.E.R. U.” by Daniel Bedingfield becomes the second top tenner from Secret Fear-Stop The Traffik at #8. A video is in the works but below is a new official lyrics video that was introduced recently for the song.
I’m currently wading through the complexities that comprise Passion Pit’s sophomore album Gossamer. It has the unusual mix of highly personalized lyrics by leader Michael Angelakos along with an eclectic, fanciful blend of rock and electronica – nothing out there quite sounds like Passion Pit. And when you hear “Take A Walk” (below) it commands attention and heads start to bob. The song advances to #12, and after catching a repeat of Passion Pit’s songs on Saturday Night Live, I’m even more looking forward to seeing them in concert in February. Also playing on that bill in Toronto will be Matt & Kim, whose “Now” rises to #16.
The lower part of the chart is brimming with entries from the last few charts. Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You” is up to #17, with more Chris Wallace in the form of album track “Keep Me Crazy” at #18. The fastest riser is the unanticipated electronica-heavy “If I Lose Myself” by One Republic at #19. It looks like more than a smattering of influence of Swedish House Mafia has rubbed off on Ryan Tedder and band – you can kind of hear the melody of “Save (The World Tonight)” inside of “If I Lose Myself”. “Youth In Trouble” from The Presets’ latest album Pacifica lands at #20 (listen to the epic Green Velvet remix below – you can download it with your email addy for freeright here), while “Reboot The Mission” by The Wallflowers jumps to #22.
Besides River Tiber’s “The City”, three other songs debut on the chart. Zedd & Foxes team up for “Clarity” at #21, soon to be one of my most played songs of the year,which I wrote about just recently.I also wrote about the dance explosion that is “A World Apart” by European producer/DJ Davis Redfield, featuring a fantastic yet hitherto unknown female voice, and it arrives at #27. At #29, somewhat belatedly but definitely a grower, is “Turn Around” by Conor Maynard featuring Ne-Yo. Conor already has chart experience in these pages with last Spring’s “Can’t Say No”, and this third single from his Contrast album definitely makes ears perk up when you find out how good the voices of Conor and Ne-Yo sound together (despite the weak-ish video below). This young English buck has the vocal chops, and his next album should really tell the tale.
This early morning blog post is brought to you by the new single from Justin Timberlake, “Suit & Tie”, which was finally released today after a lot of online teasing last week. Well, let’s face it, JT is using the newer medium that was just on the rise at the time of his 2006 album FutureSexLoveSounds, when the music fan world was wrapped up with MySpace (which coincidentally he is instrumental in reviving).
“Suit & Tie” is definitely recorded by a guy in love. It’s a breezy, slight dash of blue-eyed soul, highly reminiscent of early 70s songs by Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson. I don’t think Jay-Z’s rap adds anything to the record personally. This is really all about JT’s voice, and less this time about the innovation that scored with “SexyBack” in ’06 (both that song and the album were my favourites of its year). So let’s see how it competes with the rest that’s out there!
Kudos to my fellow online music buffKurt Trowbridge, who guessed both the name of the single and album (The 20/20 Experience) days before release. Well done!
With “Spectrum” as the Billboard #1 Dance Club Play Song of 2012, Zedd wisely follows it with an equally strong song, the title track of his album Clarity. Featuring Foxes on vocals the song ruminates over what people long for if they don’t have it: Someone who will bring perspective to them and their relationship. It’s accompanied by a soaring melody that undoubtedly is filling dance floors across North America (and even the world) as the song rapidly moves up the Dance Club Play chart. Booom!
Lawson, “Learn To Love Again”
Digging four songs deep now into the (soon to be released in North America) Chapman Square album, the talented lads in Lawson perhaps have their strongest single to date. It’s more large-and-in-charge than their other songs, supported by an expensive-looking video featuring some fancy dancing that may detract from the band’s performance. Nonetheless after all of their touring, I expect their February 2 show in Toronto to go over big with any pop music lovers who like guys who can play so well and write great songs.
Martha Wash, “It’s My Time”
It’s fan-tastic to know for a disco/dance music buff like me that Martha Wash has released her first album in 20 years called Something Good, though she’s really never been away from the dance music scene at all. Best known for her classic work with Two Tons O’ Fun (you probably first heard her on Sylvester’s magical “Dance (Disco Heat)”), The Weather Girls, Black Box, and C+C Music Factory with her instantly recognizably powerful voice, Martha has always had an identity with dance music lovers even if she wasn’t seen in the videos. “It’s My Time” is an uplifting, magnetic song to which so many listeners can relate whether it’s remixed and on the dance floor or not. Let’s hope she’s gonna be touring – and maybe she’ll be able to perform some of those megahits along with her new songs, having had 6 solo Billboard Dance Club Play #1’s (most recently in 2007) and 7 others on which she was a featured vocalist. 13 #1’s!! Take that!!
George Nozuka, “Don’t Go”
Let’s say welcome back to New York-born Canadian singer George Nozuka, who under his first name had some significant success in Canada with “Talk To Me”, “Last Time” and “Lie To Me” from his debut album Believe back in 2006/07. He has a smooth-as-silk vocal that pulls emotion from each word. “Don’t Go” continues in that style from his sophomore album Beautiful, and the video features some excellent dance moves from George as well. He comes from an amazingly talented family of brothers (including fave of mine Justin) but has a style all to himself. Hopefully I’ll get to dig deeper into his new album over the next while.
BAKER, “If U Love Me”
L.A. singer BAKER definitely has a strong set of followers, who keep visiting the post where I introduced you to himand his song “Convince Me” back last May. It looks like his first album will drop soon, and it’s being preceded by a winning, summery slice of pop called “If U Love Me”. If you pine for California beaches, you’ll see most of the video for the song is set there. Not sure about why he’s wearing the big boots at the beach in some scenes, nor why the big blue boom box accompanies him most of the time, but the video does prove to be a memorable showcase for BAKER because of his soaring voice. But if you see a guy on an L.A. beach with a blue boom box, well…
TYLER SHAW, “Kiss Goodnight”
The second Much Music Coke Covers contest winner is Vancouver’s Tyler Shaw, whose down-to-earth personality and crisp vocals made him an obvious contender in the contest. As I witnessed this past summer (in a local concert that also featured previous winner Danyka Nadeau), Tyler has the easy-going stage presence, voice, and choice of songs (such as an acoustic version of “Rolling In The Deep”) to command attention. This continues with his first release “Kiss Goodnight”, not by any means an earth shaking in-your-face original, but it’s the perfect song to showcase everything that I’ve described. Tyler Shaw definitely has the potential to gravitate beyond his domestic success.
BRIAN FUENTE, “Sidelined”
It’s not just the finalists that I hear and watch for when I check out TV’s “The Voice”, because winning the whole shebang is only one part of the show. More so in seasons two and three have there been terrific performers who haven’t made it to even the semi-finals for varying reasons. Mississippi-born Nashville-based 29 year old Brian Fuente is one of those performers. To me, the songs that were chosen did not showcase the extent of his vocal prowess nor of course did they showcase what a great guitar player he is. You can hear lots of that U2-Coldplay-inspired playing on his song “Sidelined”. The simple-themed video below helps put Brian’s talent front and centre while telling an interesting story. Brian has recently released independently a five song EP called 1983, on which he played almost every instrument. I think it’s time for his coach Blake Shelton to pick up the phone… Look for more releases soon from Brian and his new band The Shadows.
Yes, it’s a goodie bag, because you know when you reach inside one, you will find something that you reeeaallly like 🙂
David Bowie, “Where Are We Now”
It’s now an Internet event when a classic rock star releases new material after 10 years, and as you recall David Bowie was one of the first celebs to embrace the Internet wholeheartedly. On his 66th birthday, David has bestowed us with “Where Are We Now”, a sullen pop song accompanied by an unsurprisingly stylish but static video. It will be interesting to hear David’s voice on other songs on his upcoming album The Next Day due in March. Here it crackles in the only way that age can provide. It has the potential for sounding like a reconfigured David Bowie, while in the same breath making it hard to determine if his dulcet tones of songs like “China Girl” or “Wild Is The Wind” are in the past. If the lyrics pass you by, then the great thing about a David Bowie song is that the melody does stick. It will be hard to keep an objective mind looking back on some of my favourite songs by him like “Fame”, “Golden Years”, “Young Americans”, “Ashes To Ashes”, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”, and “Time Will Crawl”. But “Where Are We Now” provides the impetus to do just that.
Ed Drewett, “Good Morning” (Monsieur Adi remix) and “Drunk Dial”
Sometimes it does take a new record deal to get back in the public eye, even if you’re not out of the public ear. For 24 year old UK singer/songwriter Ed Drewett has already had a few slices of fame come his way, first as vocalist on Professor Green’s Top 5 UK hit “I Need You Tonight” 3 years ago, but more recently as a songwriter for The Wanted (including “Glad You Came”) and Olly Murs. The BlogVerse has been touting Ed’s praises from the release of his solo single “Champagne Lemonade” back in 2010. With a new deal with Polydor/Universal in hand, Ed has recently brought us the glimmering “Good Morning” (free from his website), which in turn was given an outstanding eye-popping remix from the creatively reliable Monsieur Adi. Then, we’ve heard a somewhat more produced Ed in “Drunk Dial”, which to me is a supurb song that doesn’t need all of the maddening acoutrements and is the most fun on the subject of drunk calling since Ro Danishei’s “Drunk.Txt”. These are both fine introductions to an album that’s due later this year.
UK duo Hurts return with a huge sound that is razor sharp and one that might make devoted fans wonder where they’re headed. Not surprisingly, the first comments I read about “Miracle” was that it sounded way too much like “Princess Of China” by Coldplay and Rihanna. Well, yes to start… but this song lives its own life quite nicely in all around compelling way that takes you deeper, this coming from someone who appreciated their songs from 2010’s Happiness which alas did not resonate with me. The expressive Bono-ish vocals take first fiddle, even with production that desperately wants to go boom. “Miracle” is a solid release from Hurts that should put Theo and Adam even more on the international map.
Stefan Galea, “Disco Lemonade”
Maltese teen Stefan Galea could be to 2013 what The Netherlands’ Jeronimo was in 2012 for me. Stefan has a unique and highly recognizable voice that could help “Disco Lemonade” find its way onto international dance floors. Despite a middle break that doesn’t really work, Stefan is the star of the show here and I’m sure there will be more coming like this from him later in the year. After all, who needs plain old lemonade when it can be disco-flavoured 🙂 You can get this one on iTunes.
Parralox, “Silent Morning”
If Australian duo Parralox (who I wrote about not long ago, featuring their song “Sharper Than A Knife” as some Autumn Popervescence) have anything to do with it, the evolution and resurgence of Miami freestyle dance music will take place in 2013. What better way to start with their Christmas present to us, a cover of Noel’s seminal 80’s smash “Silent Morning”. This version has a slighter but brighter sound that doesn’t make you forget about the original but instead is clearly a tribute to it. Download it for free at the link below.
St. Lucia, “September”
I might be a little late to the table for this crackerjack slice of dance music, but “September” glides along like a fancy sports car on a hot summer night on the French riviera. It’s a terrific companion to music by the likes of The Presets, Russ Chimes, or FrankMusik, atmospheric without being too big for its britches. Led by South Africa-born, New York-based Jean-Philip Grobler, you can find an upcoming show by St. Lucia on February 11 in Santa Ana, California on a double bill with none other than JMSN.
Davis Redfield, “A World Apart”
Sometimes we have to make choices (like the not-so-subtle lion and lamb imagery in the video), but if you can dance to the song that captures that theme well, then you’ll be all the better for it. Producer/remixer/songwriter Davis Redfield has created an energetic, slamming electronic house track with “A World Apart” that is further enhanced by a stunning female vocal (and who is this mystery vocalist, I do not know). “A World Apart” will surely muscle its way onto international dance floors.
I’ve been waiting for River Tiber’s sophomore album to drop once I found out it was coming this past summer. Once again, singer/producer/musical whiz Tommy Paxton-Beesley has made it available for free download as he has done with his other releases. While it’s easily recognizable as River Tiber with its unique blend of pop/rock and clear influences from jazz and classical like on the debut From Now On, this time Synapses explores additions of much more electronic experimentation as well as tribal rhythms that sound like they could be African or South American. Radiohead meets Led Zeppelin meets Peter Gabriel meets Jeff Buckley meets Philip Glass meets M83 meets BT in more dreamy landscapes that are clearly soundtracks to something visual that we can’t yet see.
We’ve already been introduced to “What Are You Afraid Of” in advance of the album, a song that takes a little time to brew but is certainly a grower. The other standout songs within are “Reverie”, with vocal bursts that Robert Plant would appreciate; “The Ancients”, with a repetitive guitar refrain that sticks like glue underneath the other elements in the song; “The Star Falls”, whose snappy electronic rhythm ticks away under a soaring vocal backdrop; and “Prophets” which draws from as much early 70’s progressive rock as it might from songs in Buckley’s Grace album. My new favourite might be “The City”, with an almost too-slight, sometimes gradually disembodied, but compelling and haunting vocal set to a slow steady beat. As forlorn and isolated as the music may sound, the lyrics seem to be about resolution and moving on to something better.
Synapses doesn’t hesitate to mess with sounds, incorporating dialogue and other samples as a part of its inherent musicality. Sometimes the notes sound deliberately off-key or too sharp or too flat, but they don’t make the music any less melodic. It takes a lot of talent to pull this off successfully.
Tommy and River Tiber have created an album that will endure throughout 2013 and beyond. Synapses begs for mini-movies; Tommy has already created and directed the videos you’ll find on River Tiber’s You Tube page, so there will be more on the way. Tell your friends about River Tiber and Synapses. River Tiber plays an album release party on Thursday January 3 at The Drake Hotel in Toronto.
One of the first songs you would have found online for free after midnight on New Year’s Day was “Again” by New York delight Baiyu. This gal knows how to execute a ballad, and you can feel the finality in the heartbreak at the end of a relationship in both the words and the vocal. Baiyu plans to release something new every month, which is pretty ambitious in a saturated online world, but her talent is unmistakable and each new song is well worth discovering.
Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 thanks to a steady stream of dance singles which tantalized my ears more with each song, stemming from his appearance on This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One with “Pitiful”. This culminated in the late summer release of “Music Makes You Lose Control” (MMYLC), a dance party rave-up that is so worthy of a big, big production number with lots of costumes! Carlos wants to party but knows how to tease (“Electrify me with that body / You make me sweat like nobody”), and brings diverse influences from the likes of Britney Spears through to Daft Punk to the table. Simply put, it’s a song that creates a whole lot of fun within its 3 minute timeframe without going over the top. Look for Carlos’ album to surface in the New Year – I’ll certainly have the scoop when it happens. MMYLC was #1 for one appearance in early November – post Hallowe’en blast 🙂
#9 Jeronimo “One Kiss”
“One Kiss” is one of those songs that triggers immediate reaction – and sends people to iTunes for purchase. I’m no exception to that, and the song paved the way for the enjoyable album of the same name from Jeronimo, the young Brazil-born Dutch singer/actor with a super unique voice. From the songwriting to the vocal to the music, “One Kiss” is a tiny perfect record in so many ways. It’s a feel good song that makes you smile. The music has traditional European folk elements, Jeronimo’s vocal is playful without being pleading, and you can learn the lyrics after one listen. “One Kiss” is a case in point for European songs that don’t get promoted well outside of their countries of origin. With the right songs, Jeronimo has huge potential to breakout worldwide, and he is someone to root for. He himself is a charmer, his connection with his fan base is top notch (watch out for his tweet bombs on Twitter 😉 ), and his song “It’s A Fun Thing” is even the Cartoon Network’s signature song in Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand. Watch the video for “One Kiss” below and don’t tell me that by the end you aren’t smiling.
#8 Eric Saade “Backseat”
“Backseat” is the third song and second album track from Saade Volume 2 to grace this list. Eric Saade is no stranger to the list, as both “Popular” and “Made Of Pop” ranked in my Top 10 of 2011 (“Popular” was #1). I’m anxious to hear more songs from his upcoming fourth album, but I’m still wrapped up in the last two 😉 “Backseat” is danceable pop with grinding and rocking guitar sounds similar to what we were given a taste of on Volume 1 with the odd but infectious “Killed By A Cop”. Eric certainly has the ladies wrapped around his finger with the (somewhat unintended?) suggestive lyrics which probably prevented this from being a single. “Backseat” shows Eric Saade at his most intense and driven, and he continues to display more sides of his talents with each release.
#7 Bright Light Bright Light “Waiting For The Feeling”
Bright Light Bright Light’s album Make Me Believe In Hope is popping up on more year end Best Of album lists than any that I’ve heard this year. It’s essentially Rod Thomas’ greatest hits of songs that he’s been releasing since 2009. Also no stranger to this list (“A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II” were in my Top 10 of 2010), Rod has a way of finding moments in time to write and sing about that are sometimes within relationships or even after them. He seizes romance, where it can be found. If it can’t be found, he asks why, and sometimes offers his take on it. It makes for a compelling listen and an experience like no other. “Waiting For The Feeling” is one of my absolute favourites by BLx2, and it held court for a good part of the Spring at the top of my chart (4 appearances = 8 weeks). When not performing, Rod keeps busy DJing in London, remixing (“Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes was one of his projects), and often offering up mixtapes and thoughtful mashups for free. Make Me Believe In Hope truly opened up the doors to the world for Bright Light Bright Light in 2012. I just know the world will embrace his next set of songs in a bigger way when they arrive.
#6 Zedd featuring Matthew Koma “Spectrum”
“Spectrum” kind of came out of nowhere this past summer as a result of teaming German DJ/producer Zedd (Anton Zaslavski) with New York singer-on-the-rise Matthew Koma (one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13). It turned out to be a dream collaboration, with Matthew’s romantic and boyish vocal, heartfelt lyrics (“We’ll run where lights won’t chase us / Hide where love can save us / I will never let you go”), and production awash in layers of sound that all achieve a fine balance like no other song this year. Add a video with an alien love story with Taryn Manning as the love interest, rave reviews for Zedd’s album Clarity, and a #1 placing for “Spectrum” as Billboard’s Dance Club Play hit of 2012, and lift off was achieved for both talents. Zedd apparently is working on Lady GaGa’s upcoming ARTPOP release while Matthew’s album Propaganda is due in early 2013.
#5 Eric Saade featuring Dev “Hotter Than Fire”
The only single release from Saade Volume 2 (which was #1 on my chart for three appearances – 6 weeks) finds Eric paired up with American singer/rapper/songwriter Dev, which helped give the Swedish singer some international starpower behind his music. While there voices are good counterparts to each other, “Hotter Than Fire” itself is a strong enough song that could have been a worldwide hit if there had been more focus on achieving that status. Eric’s playful and sexy vocal certainly sent enough hearts aflutter, and the singer marketed himself well to the Nordic countries with continuous touring through most of 2012. So the next step has to be a worldwide profile. “Hotter Than Fire” also benefitted from having two videos – I’m still kind of partial to the original, which I believe was shot in one take with some decent effects.
#4 River Tiber “Someday”
While “Symmetry” (#11) was the first song that introduced me to River Tiber, it was “Someday” (which was #1 on my chart for three appearances – 6 weeks) that drew me in to their album From Now On. While River Tiber has many influences in its music which stem from jazz to classical to experimental electronica, the incredible vocal and guitar playing on “Someday” by Tommy Paxton-Beesley just reminded me so much of Jeff Buckley’s work, which continued to prevail throughout the album unlike other performers whose Buckley-esque sound can usually only be heard on one song. But Tommy and his band prove that they have so much to offer, with new album Synapses out tomorrow. River Tiber is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13, and probably the one for which I have the highest expectations for whatever Tommy and band can achieve. “Someday” is one of those songs that has you in its corner from its first note to its last (in this case, it’s a well placed last breath).
#3 Rune RK & DATABOY “Memorize Me”
I was so excited when I first found out “Memorize Me” was seeing an official release (after hearing it in the summer of 2011) that I put it on my chart later that year… but had to remove it when release was delayed (only songs that are officially released in some way can appear on my chart – one of my few rules J ). But that release date did come, and the song re-entered the chart at #1 for 4 appearances (8 weeks) for the Danish producer/DJ who brought us the original “Calabria” back in 2002, pairing up with outstanding Austin electronica whizzes and vocalists, DATABOY. “Memorize Me” is a dazzling club track whose music makes you visualize sandy beaches of Ibiza and whose lyrics weave a mesmerizing spell (the song even has kind of a commanding, eerie undertone) thanks to DATABOY’s interpretation. Shortly after official release came a provocative video for the song where two children were let loose (seemingly on their own) in a city to behave and act only as kids do, even if it meant finding their way through a Pride parade and a concert – we are all kids at heart.
#2 Chris Wallace “Remember When (Push Rewind)”
“Remember When (Push Rewind)” is the purest of pop songs that I heard in 2012. It sends me back to my Top 40 days in the ‘70’s when classic hits were all about songs to which you could relate in some ways. It literally came out of nowhere, on an independent record label, by singer/songwriter Chris Wallace, who had some success as the leader of the group The White Tie Affair (which got to open for Lady GaGa on tour among its successes). You’ve read it enough already in this Top 10 listening, but Chris Wallace has one of those voices that is simply like no other, it is highly recognizable. He can sing anything and I’m sure must have offers to be a featured vocalist on some songs. He’s also a talented songwriter as the breadth of his songs on his debut album Push Rewind easily showcases. That album has a few more hits up its sleeve. But getting back to “Remember When” – it is THE ‘song that could’ for 2012. It has already become a Top 30 radio hit in the US and I’m waiting for the day in 2013 when it will arrive on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song also came packaged with an excellent video that shows off Chris’ on camera personality as well as the song’s story. “Remember When” was #1 on my chart for 4 appearances (8 weeks) during the summer.
#1 DATABOY “Dreams Are Gold”
“Dreams Are Gold” is my favourite song of 2012. It’s the title song from the debut album by the Austin duo which comprises Adam Bailey and Cameron Maxwell. I had the opportunity to see the duo in a thus far rare concert appearance in New York in April 2011 (but somehow did not get to meet them!). Since then, their songs have appeared frequently in my chart, with the essential summer song “Just Once” my #4 song of 2011. Dreams Are Gold is a collection of all of their songs released since 2010, plus several gems that they held back for inclusion such as “Genius”, “Unfriend”, and “Shoplift Your Love” – these guys pick great themes and write sometimes very direct lyrics that might seem abrupt at first, but this is part of what they’re all about. What I love, love, love most about DATABOY is their ability to articulate situations to which anyone can relate, and set it to music to which you can dance. And that’s why I adore “Dreams Are Gold”. The song is about moving on after the end of what seemed to be a good relationship. The target of the song is accused of being a “dream, dream, stealer, stealer”, but we’re not to dwell on that (“But I’m not gonna lose sleep about it”… “Won’t cry on my pillow”…) because hopes and dreams cannot be crushed or dismissed – they are GOLD, so go out and have a great time. I totally subscribe to that thinking so “Dreams Are Gold” is WOW in just so many ways for me. While the song had two appearances (4 weeks) at #1, its entire chart run was spent in my Top 10.
We interrupt our year end countdown with this less flashy post to bring you my last personal chart of 2012 and the first that will count towards year end for 2013. Three performers return to the chart after long absences.
After a mediocre start with “Feel Again”, the second single from One Republic’s upcoming third album Native is a stunner. “If I Lose Myself” (#26) is a sleeping slice of soft electronica that returns to the familiar sound of recent hits such as “Good Life”. Since singer/songwriter Ryan Tedder has been involved in a lot of dance/EDM projects recently, it’s no surprise for the influence to spill over to One Republic. But overall “If I Lose Myself” is a better song, which returns the band to my chart since 2008 after three Top 10 hits, including the #1 “Apologize”.
With even a longer gap on the chart, The Wallflowers are back for the first time since 2005 with the funky “Reboot The Mission” (#28), which was originally made available as a free download. With guitarist Mick Jones from The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite successes on board, you can hear the distinct presence of songs like “This Is Radio Clash” or “Rush” in the music. The video (above) is also filled with great, seemingly impossible choreography too. The Wallflowers had my favourite song of 1997, the equally rhythmic “One Headlight”.
Shiny Toy Guns were Grammy nominees back in 2007 and with their new album III they are now among the better known indie scene. Making their first appearance since their Top 10’s (“You Are The One” and “Le Disko”), the band returns with the highly engaging “Somewhere To Hide” at #30.
The fourth debut on the chart could actually be a re-entry if it wasn’t re-recorded. Aiming at a younger market by including top notch vocalist Ariana Grande (from TV’s “Victorious”), Mika’s “Popular Song” is back on the chart at #29. The original version got to #18; I expect this new one will do better.
Highlighting key moves on the chart, “Yeah Yeah” by Willy Moon moves to #2 to attempt to dethrone “Parachute” by Matthew Koma, which is #1 again for a second appearance. Matthew is also right behind at #3 with album track “1998”, while Tao Hypah’s supremely catchy “Play The Girl” becomes his second Top 5 hit at #5. “Time Bomb (Walk Away)” by Chris Wallace soars into the Top 10 at #6, with other new entries to the Top 10 by Kid Massive & DATABOY “Good Girlfriend” at #9 and “Burn” by Bim at #10.
River Tiber’s “What Are You Afraid Of” is the fastest riser, gliding 22-14, with other big moves from songs by Daniel Bedingfield, FrankMusik, Passion Pit, Chris Wallace (with “Keep Me Crazy”), Ne-Yo, and The Presets.
You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can clickright here. You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page. Any free downloads that are identified are sanctioned by the performer. There’s always a tiny place at the bottom of the blog post with tags and the statement “Leave A Comment” – please feel free to do so
#20 Foster The People “Houdini” (Green Children remix)
The art of the remix will be mentioned in this next list of songs as sometimes (but not always) can a remix improve on a song. Foster The People have been known to dabble in remixes themselves, and when I heard this remix in a store one day I didn’t even realize it was them during the first minute of the song. The Green Children remix dazzles by grabbing you from the very start and not letting you go till the end. It’s also important to note that the duo remixed this for the SOS Children’s Village charities too. Foster The People’s lyrics are quite inspiring – encouraging young folks to “focus on your ability” rather than disappearing because of fear. I don’t know how that all fits into their own odd but innovative Grammy-nominated video. You can watch the animated one to the Green Children remix as well as the original below.
#19 Eric Saade “Fingerprints”
I’ll bet regular readers of this blog were wondering when Le Saade would appear, right? “Fingerprints” is one of three songs from Saade Volume Two to grace this list and reach the Top 3 on my chart. Somehow the Swedish star’s glory needs to spread outside of the Nordic countries, and I thought the propulsive electronica from that album would have been a sure thing – and it might have, had the album been released in more places. Nonetheless, “Fingerprints” is a great story (“there’s no face in the mirror / your image is the killer”) and guaranteed to make large crowds bounce along.
#18 Joe Jonas “Make You Mine”
If people would have told me two years ago that some of my favourite songs of 2012 would have been by Joe Jonas, I probably would have given them strange looks. But here it is at #18, the best song from Joe’s Fastlife album “Make You Mine”, a smartly written and romantic (“Gonna rock with you til sunrise /Can I, let me do all the little things you like”) slice of pop/electronica with a driven melody and couldn’t-be-better vocal from Joe. Should. Have. Been. A. Single.
#17 Kyle Patrick “Go For Gold”
This free download and precursor to Kyle’s self-titled EP finds the 26 year old Georgia born singer of The Click Five continuing with his energetic brand of power pop that has given him and his band much success in Southeast Asia, where he has continued to tour throughout most of 2012. Why this couldn’t have spread more to the rest of the world is a little beyond me. “Go For Gold” in fact is the perfect song for any Olympics celebration. Its upbeat singalong message is simply contagious and inspiring (“Chasing every heartbeat / We can feel it starting” “Chase it till we own it / Living in the moment”). Kyle acquitted the song perfectly in the video (also available in 3D!!), which didn’t look like it had a lot of edits, giving it a free-flowing roam-around-a-set feel.
#16 Lana Del Rey “Blue Jeans” (Penguin Prison remix)
Remix case-in-point #2. Take Lana Del Rey’s dreamy and flowing “Blue Jeans” from her Born To Die album, throw in a funky backdrop to continue to highlight her Stevie Nicks-ish sounding vocal on the song and layer some lush keyboards around it, and you have the basis for Penguin Prison’s sexy remix, which to me blows the original out of the water. This remix of “Blue Jeans” continues to be one of my most-played songs even though it arrived for free online late last year. And I had the pleasure of seeing Penguin Prison perform the remix in concert twice this year. Check out all three – original video, remix, and Penguin Prison’s performance – below.
#15 Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin “Don’t You Worry Child”
Sometimes we all need a positive message and when it’s set to some rich EDM it makes the experience even better! Such is the case as Swedish House Mafia apparently close the door on their project with this worldwide smash, featuring powerful and touching vocals by singer John Martin. “Don’t You Worry Child” held court at #1 on my chart for 2 appearances (4 weeks) starting in late November. It’s a Grammy nominee for Dance Recording of the Year.
#14 Kylie Minogue “Timebomb”
I continue to ask myself why Kylie’s best and most accessible record in 10 years did not become a major hit outside of Australia. Despite raves from bloggers and music fans, the song disappeared in short order, which is a shame. It’s a fun song, a terrific dance floor filler, and a great companion to something like “Till the World Ends” by Britney Spears. I think time will serve this song well! Fun video, too, below.
#13 Florence & The Machine “Spectrum” (Calvin Harris remix)
Always a favourite song of mine from Florence’s sophomore album Ceremonials, “Spectrum” somehow managed to be improved with the help of a Calvin Harris remix, which sent it to #1 in the UK among other places (it was also a #1 US dance club play smash). The remix takes advantage of what a big and dynamic song it is, with a smashing vocal performance that cannot be bested (despite game attempts in viral covers, including on “The Voice”). I’m glad the group ended up with two Grammy nominations this year, as did Harris for Best Dance Recording for “Let’s Go” (but, oddly enough, not for Remixer).
#12 Penguin Prison “Don’t Fuck With My Money”
Strangely enough, by the time Penguin Prison’s album surfaced in mid-2011, I think I was still caught up in songs like “Multi-Millionaire” and “Golden Train”, though I had heard this song already in concert. Being the album’s opener, though, it does set a tone, and by late last year its anthemic urgency had won me over big time, becoming impossible not to sing along with it at a Penguin Prison concert. Audiences and club DJ’s agreed, and it became a Top 10 Billboard Dance/Club Play hit that will endure. I can’t wait for more new music from Chris Glover and Penguin Prison in ’13.
#11 River Tiber “Symmetry”
From Now On, the debut album from Toronto band River Tiber, who are one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13, is my current go-to album when I want to drift away with songs that have glorious mood changes and deliberate moments of quiet. “Symmetry” is one of the songs that contains exactly that, with a charming and subtle vocal by Tommy Paxton-Beasley till he sings “I thought I could fall in to you” half way through, which actually becomes the uncharacteristic climactic point of the song, allowing you to drift along with it like you would in a really solid good dream. “Symmetry” (in a chart geek moment 😉 the only song this year to peak at #2 on my chart) is the first of two songs on this list from River Tiber, whose next album Synapses drops on January 1.
#30 John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe “Long Time”
One of Sweden’s best exports in 2012 is “Long Time”, a huge domestic hit that became a Top 25 North American dance club hit as well. It also had the distinction of being picked up for Tiesto’s Club Life Miami Calling Volume 2 compilation alongside of tunes by its creator and remixes of songs by Gotye, Coldplay, The Young & Famous, Afrojack and more. It was also the first time some of you heard Andreas Moe, who is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13and had my #36 hit of 2012, “Collecting Sunlight”.
#29 Lifehouse featuring Natasha Bedingfield “Between The Raindrops”
While it may not have been a complete surprise that Natasha (long a friend of the band) was featured on the lead off single from Lifehouse’s Almeria album, it may have struck fans that this country-tinged song took two steps back from those on their rocking last album Smoke And Mirrors. But “Between The Raindrops” is a real grower and the harmonies between Jason Wade and Natasha couldn’t be better.
#28 Adam Tyler “Music Freak”
The last of two songs from Shattered Ice to appear in this list, “Music Freak” is one of Adam Tyler’s songs that I can totally identify with 🙂 So it’s great for the rest of us long time music fans and chart buffs to know that the singer is in this club too. It’s also one of his best singalong songs to date. Hear the song on Spotify at the link below, and watch the video below when Adam performed in Miami (he also performed in Stockholm, London, and Barcelona this year!).
#27 The Wanted “Glad You Came”
A #1 hit in the UK in 2011, it was no shocker that both The Wanted and One Direction arrived on the scene at the same time and have both had significant success, not unlike Backstreet Boys and *N Sync at the end of the 90’s. What makes “Glad You Came” stand out is the lilting melody that transforms into an almost traditional UK folk-oriented club hit, complete with soulful vocals from guys who can sing. The Wanted are expected to release two albums in 2013, one that is scarily replete with major guest stars. We’ll wait to see if their talent shines through and they have the same caliber of songwriting (keeping Ed Drewett in the mix might be worthwhile).
#26 Colin Munroe featuring Pusha T “The Fight Of My Life”
After disappearing from view for a while to regroup after personal and professional losses, Toronto’s Colin Munroe came out punching with a free download album Unsung Hero, which attracted names like Pusha T, RZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Cassie to the table, as well as a new record deal. It’s an outstanding album that’s hard to classify (lots of pop, R&B/soul, and rap within) full of soaring, triumphant moments like “The Fight Of My Life”. Colin’s vocals are alternately heartfelt and soaring – let’s hope his next release brings him the commercial success that he deserves.
#25 Foster The People “Call It What You Want”
No, Foster The People are not one-hit wonders after last year’s massive hit “Pumped Up Kicks”. Follow up singles “Don’t Stop” and “Helena Beat” did moderately well in North America (better in places like Australia), while clubs favoured two other songs, one being the playful “Call It What You Want”. The video is also kind of irresistible and enjoyable in a ‘what will happen next’ sense.
#24 Graffiti6 “Free”
After being lavished with praise by bloggers and tastemakers a few years back, London duo Graffiti6 (Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers) signed to a major label in 2011 and by the end of the year released an EP followed by the album Colours in 2012. “Free” became one of a few songs on this listing ‘that could’ – it gradually found fans, radio station adds, sales, and even airplay in supermarkets. Its vibrant melody as well as vocals by Jamie that are exuberant and full of personality completely sold me, and I expect great things from Graffiti6 to follow.
#23 Tao Hypah “Celeb”
It was pretty instantaneous… the best dance compilation of 2012 This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One already featured songs that were known to me, and it got better with the inclusion of others that weren’t familiar to me like #53 “How It Feels To Be A Man” by Markus Riva, “Pitiful” by Carlos Nóbrega (one of my 13 Performers to Watch in ’13), and “Celeb” by half-Japanese Netherlands singer Tao Hypah. “Celeb” is one of the most original records of the year, offered initially as a free download, which spins the tale of a guy who catches the coattails of an A list gal on the way back to the D list (one specific name comes to mind!). Its refrain will leave you humming for weeks and if you catch yourself singing, just mind the line about snorting cocaine out in public 😉
#22 Stone Walters “Home”
Another of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 is UK soul singer Stone Walters. His song “Home” (a free download) is one of those songs of the year that became my rock, that would ground me when I was pondering other important issues – you can never reinforce the importance of home and family enough, and “Home” celebrates just that. Stone is a diverse singer who can sing R&B/soul one moment, and pop/rock the next. I think he has a great future ahead.
#21 RAC featuring Penguin Prison “Hollywood”
RAC stands for Remix Artist Collective, a trio of US based DJ/producers who have remixed or worked with the likes of Foster The People, Gossip, Tokyo Police Club, U2, Bloc Party, and Chromeo. “Hollywood” is their first single release, with no one better to sing it than Chris Glover of Penguin Prison (who has another song higher in the list). Its funky groove, sense of whimsy, and interesting story along with Chris’ trademark vocals made it one of my go-to songs mid-year. Penguin Prison also performed the song in concert when I saw them in June, which was a treat.
“Earthquake” is a carry over from last year, when it was a #2 hit in the UK. Europe still gets what North America doesn’t: Labrinth (aka 23 year old Timothy McKenzie) created a complicated landscape which stands out from so many other dance/EDM records of the past year. Tinie Tempah’s rap blends into the proceedings quite nicely, and the song is matched with an appropriately snazzy and other-worldly video. Boom! Shake the room.
#39 JMSN “Something”
One of the most compelling records of the year, if not always an easy listen, is JMSN’s †Priscilla†. The lengthy album features R&B-oriented pop songs about heartbreak, loss, loneliness, self-doubt, and self-realization. But JMSN (Christian Berishaj) executes his songs with such finesse, well-structured vocals, and arrangements to die-for that you are drawn into the concept rather than shoved away from it. “Something” is the album’s stunner, full of longing and grim truth that echoes like the hefty amount of percussion in the backdrop. JMSN has been playing shows this year primarily in Los Angeles, and I’m hoping his next effort in ’13 will take him across North America (perhaps with his friend Daniel Bedingfield? More about that further on.). Watch the video below; it will make you squirm but it’s hard to look away.
Nary a day has gone by in the last three years when the music of Bright Light Bright Light hasn’t been heard in my household or in my car or on my iPod. Regular readers will already know that Wales-born London-based BLx2 (Rod Thomas) creates wise and romantic soundscapes that draw heavily from disco and 90’s dance pop. “Moves” and “Feel It” are two of three songs in this year end listing from BLx2’s debut album Make Me Believe In Hope – and Rod will convince you. “Moves” (live performance video below) is disco heaven featuring a backdrop of 70’s flourishes while “Feel It” pulls up to the bumper with its funky heat and supurb featured vocals by mister Mykal Kilgore that would not sound out of place on a Black Box single. To cap it all off, Rod created one of his now famously generous mashups with “Feel It” and Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s Have A Kiki” which puts a smile on my face – and anyone else’s who I’ve played it for – every time.
#37 Adam Tyler “Like A Drug”
Another album that has songs split between last year and this year is Shattered Ice by Adam Tyler. L.A.-based Adam’s been a mainstay in these parts for the last three years, continuing with the seductive “Like A Drug”, which took a bit longer to resonate with me than some of his other songs, but nonetheless it did, and Adam scored with a slick, impressively choreographed video. Adam also released an EP of stripped-away renditions of some of the Shattered Ice songs called Acoustic Ice, whose proceeds go to charity. One more Adam song – making it four that charted from Shattered Ice – is still to come in this countdown!
#36 Andreas Moe “Collecting Sunlight”
One of the year’s utterly joyful delights is “Collecting Sunlight” by Swedish singer/songwriter (and one of my 13 Performers to Watch in ’13) 24 year old Andreas Moe. The song tells a simple story that is brought to life by Andreas’ affecting vocal and subsequently by a literal but engaging animated video. But this time, watch the live performance clip below.
#34 Joe Jonas “Not Right Now”
I didn’t latch on to Joe’s Fastlife album until late last year after the first two singles from the album failed to register much with me. But upon hearing his third single, the R&B-oriented ballad “Just In Love”, I ventured into the album, and found it filled with intensely edgy danceable pop with a heavy influence from the current EDM scene. That led to two other non-singles arriving on my chart (one will follow later on in this list), so first we have “Not Right Now”, which is a pretty damn fierce cha-cha if you ask me. This is hardly what Jonas fans could have expected (and perhaps album sales suffered for that), but its smart arrangement and urgent vocal will certainly keep Joe Jonas on my radar for his next release.
#33 Vincent Did It featuring Quigley “Notice Me”
While we anticipate FrankMusik’s third album next year, he did offer us (under the guise of Vincent Did It) a still-free EP early on in the year called The SOPA Opera. It contained a diverse collection of electronic dance pop songs, including this gem, a duet led by Quigley (aka Casey Carlson) released in advance of her FrankMusik-produced EP Pleiades. Follow Frank on his journey on Twitter and take the opportunity to drop into the adventurous proceedings in his studio when he streams his works-in-progress.
#32 Ellie Goulding “Anything Could Happen”
Unlike her massive hit “Lights”, which took well over a year to gel with radio stations in North America, the sparkling and uplifting “Anything Could Happen”, from Ellie’s sophomore album Halcyon, is a no-brainer. Ellie performs a striking vocal in this song, which should by all rights be a bigger hit as it just jumps out of the radio when you hear it. I also wrote about its inventive remix by Birdy Nam Nam which generated quite a flurry online a few months back. Ellie has the potential to be the Kate Bush of the current generation.
#31 Daniel Bedingfield “Secret Fear”
Being a fan of his earlier hits, I was very pleased when Daniel Bedingfield was released from record company hell to bring us up to date on the music he’d been writing for the last eight years. Understandably, this comeback was not going to be Gotta Get Thru This part two. In fact Daniel’s album Secret Fear-Stop The Traffik contains intensely personal and emotional ruminations on love, relationships and most apparently, sex. “Secret Fear” is the dramatic, cathartic lead off song, which Daniel transformed into a claustrophobic but most watchable video that he also directed. Shows in Los Angeles and South Africa received raves from those who attended; let’s put him on a double bill with his friend JMSN for a tour, shall we?
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