Shhh It’s Frankmusik’s Year: Tuned-On! Top 30 #346 – Feb 14/11

I had actually thought about a week ago that another song would be on top of my personal chart in this edition.  But I got excited all over again at the prospect of hearing the new Frankmusik album Do It In The A.M. sometime in the Spring.  And Mr. Frank made available all of the songs he’s been posting one by one on his site as parts one and two of the EP Long Live Frankmusik (more on that later).  So after waiting patiently for Penguin Prison’s “Golden Train” to leave the top, Frankmusik’s “The Fear Inside” ascends to the summit as the preview of that long-awaited album (and I love that artwork above!).

Rihanna has to settle for second place alas, with “S&M” becoming her biggest hit on my chart to date.  The link to the naughty video is right here courtesy of Just Jared’s blog.  Then rising 9-3 we have one of 2011’s most promising new talents, UK singer Jamie Woon with the magical “Night Air” closing in quickly on #1.  Another worthy potential chart-topper is “Michelle”, the fierce duet by L.A. singers Ro Danishei and Simon Curtis, rising up to #5.

The two new additions to the Top 10 are nothing short of stunning.  Adele’s amazing “Rolling In The Deep” climbs to #8, while the fastest riser on the chart belongs to one of those simple and infinitely infectious songs that comes along only once in a while.  “Love 2 Baby” just tells it straight up and Christian TV has his second Top Tenner, following last summer’s “When She Turns 18”, all from his forthcoming debut solo album.  Just can’t wait for that!  But “Love 2 Baby” drops on iTunes on Tuesday (February 15) too!

There’s plenty of upward movement in this chart edition, including “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement & Ryan Tedder (video at the bottom of this blog), the latest very European-styled single from Adam Tyler, “I Won’t Let You Go”, and “Keep Your Head Up”, which is a great song to brighten your bad day courtesy of Andy Grammer.  “Ice Melts” by Matt & Kim and Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now” look like sure bets for the Top 10 in two weeks.

But we’re back to Frankmusik for the highest debut on the chart.  I’ve heard rumours that this song won’t be on Do It In The A.M., which seems almost unfathomable given the elegant and beautiful lyrics and performance.  So for now “Hurt You Again” is a free download so be sure to get it (go to my personal chart for the link)!  It crashes the chart at #19 to help bridge the gap between “The Fear Inside” and the release of Do It In The A.M.

Then we have two songs that I raved about in an earlier blog.  Australian duo Bag Raiders are on release worldwide with their self-titled album, and they’ve given us their collaboration with Dan Black (that fab UK musical mad scientist) “Sunlight” as a free download.  It arrives at #23.  And just below it is the return to less dark and alternative dance music for Patrick Wolf with the Richard X remix of “The City”, also a free download, at #24.  It’s from Patrick’s forthcoming album Lupercalia.  Links to the free downloads also appear inside my chart.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right or by clicking right here.  Please post any comments you might have!

This briefer-than-usual blog has been brought to you courtesy of competition with the Grammy Awards 😉

What’s THAT You’re Hearing on Pop Radio??

It’s a decades old debate that keeps rearing its head.  And with the release of Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way” yesterday, the subject came roaring back, and precipitated me putting together my thoughts about what you’re hearing on pop radio these days, and how it all got there.

For me, it goes back to growing up in the 1970’s, when the sudden change in subject matter for singles on pop radio started to be all too apparent.  You couldn’t get any more obvious than sexy and seductive singles like Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”, Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk”, Barry White’s “I’m Going To Love You (Just A Little More Babe)”… and on the flip side there were other unique-sounding hits such as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” – this one not for the subject matter but more for the artist – and of course Lou Reed’s only charted hit, the groundbreaking “Walk On The Wild Side”.  And this, folks, was 1973!!

So while Elton John grabbed hold of glam rock for his look and perhaps inspiration for some of his songs, he was the first artist that I can remember whose song used a swear word – other than say hell or damn – in its title no less, and one describing himself!  I’m referring to 1974’s “The Bitch Is Back”, which was a Top 5 hit.  I think perhaps the song would have went to #1 because there were radio stations that refused to play it.   The swearing didn’t stop there!  Veteran R&B act The Isley Brothers released in 1975 “Fight The Power”, which sang about “All that bullshit going down” and was censored on radio (usually with a ‘beep’) but was still a Top 5 hit in the U.S.  By 1977 The Eagles exclaimed “Haven’t seen a goddamn day” in “Life In The Fast Lane” and for some reason got away with it at radio.  But Steve Miller ended up with “Funky kicks going down in the city” instead of “Funky shit” in “Jet Airliner” the same year.  And after that, changing the lyrics seemed to be the way to go.  It no longer seemed to be an issue, even in the hot and heavy days of disco when sexual lyrics and subject matter pretty much remained in clubs.

In fact I can’t think of it being much of an issue until the late 80’s, but that was with videos which were spearheaded by one Madonna.  But those videos helped promote Madonna to radio, and controversial hits like “Like A Prayer”, “Justify My Love”, and “Erotica” were all still huge hits.  And it was all about the video star… until recently since TV stations like MTV and MuchMusic long ago dispensed with music videos as their main showcase in favour of other programming.

The Internet is the new MTV for videos, and it was not until 2010 that songs that prominently featured swearing or sensitive subject matter began to find their way to success through the Internet as well.  By late 2010 this had reached its pinnacle, with some of the world’s most popular artists releasing songs that, in fact on this very day are at the top of iTunes Canada’s chart.  They are “Born This Way” by Lady GaGa, “S&M” by Rihanna, “Fuckin Perfect” by Pink, and “Tonight (I’m Loving You)” by Enrique Iglesias, which I wrote about last week as “Tonight (I’m Fucking You)” (and even Avril Lavigne’s “What The Hell” is #5 – though in Canada we had Michel Pagliaro’s hit “What The Hell I Got” in 1975).  And it’s no longer possible to cover your ears or those of your children if you want to hear pop music on the radio or online, you would just basically have to avoid it all together.

For every bit of imagery borrowed from Elton John, Madonna or perhaps Donna Summer, “Born This Way” has a strong, strong message of equality that made me immediately think of those “Walk On The Wild Side” lyrics from 1973 but I’m extremely aware that that message would not be so strongly felt without Lady GaGa’s current status on the 2011 platform shoes of pop music.  “S&M” takes Madonna’s images from “Justify My Love” and “Erotica” a few steps further with a playful video and lyrics “Well I might be bad but I’m perfectly good” which make the topic seem very – routine.  And sure Pink has used swearing before, but of course in a song title you’re not going to have retail or radio promoting the F-word so even in 2011 the song becomes “Perfect” just as in 2004 when Eamon’s “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)” became a parenthetical title only – and in the UK the song was an even bigger hit than in North America, as was its reply song by Frankee which was just called “F.U.R.B.”  Ditto with Enrique Iglesias’ latest song.  A singer with such a nice-guy image as Enrique singing “Tonight I’m fucking you”?  Relegated to clubs and the online community, alas.

Only "Tonight I'm Fucking You" fan-made artwork available!

So yes, it’s the mid-seventies revisited at pop radio.  One day the swearing barrier will come down because it will no longer be an issue.  But we’ll have to see what kind of content we will hear next on pop radio, and who will bring that next step to the forefront.

Global Soundcloud Meetup – Toronto

I was pleased to attend Global Soundcloud Meetup Day in a conveniently central downtown Toronto location on Wednesday evening.  Though I may have been a bit of a fish out of water since I’m not a musician, contemporary DJ or producer, as a music fan and writer it was interesting to watch various fusions of sounds come to life.  Experimental musicians made some interesting and unique sounds, and DJ/producers used those sounds as a basis for some tracks mainly created on the spot (I will add any others that are posted online).  So after a little over two hours, the results included the music in the links below.  Thanks to Soundcloud for the meetup idea and for the organizers of Wednesday’s event which made it successful on its own terms 🙂

Winter Popervescence Goes Poptronic!

If it wasn’t for huge anticipation of upcoming releases from Frankmusik (still TBA for Do It In The A.M., but Vince has been posting some amazing free downloads that show positively MAJOR potential to be unveiled), Penguin Prison (now scheduled for April), and new UK pop/R&B sensation Jamie Woon (March), I don’t think I would be getting signals that 2011 more than ever appears to be a year in which Pop and Electronica are fusing more to commercial appeal.  To support this, we are getting some terrific fusion both on the pop charts and in some potential new talent.

I currently enjoy Enrique Iglesias’ music much more than 10 years ago when he won fame as a balladeer.  Lately Enrique’s been on a really fun club sound bent, and though huge pop hit “I Like It” burned on me after a while, and ballad “Heartbeat” with Nicole Scherzinger turned into a minor European hit, it looks like “Tonight (I’m Fucking You)” is going to be even more massive.  Credit that to the busy and infectious electronica backdrop that sets the song firmly in Clubland… and radio has jumped on the more, erhm, polite version “Tonight (I’m Loving You)”.  I think the appearance of a Ludacris rap is kind of unnecessary but is playing to both radio and street cred.  So is North American radio finally set to embrace a steadier diet of Poptronic sounds, or is this just a one off?  We’ll see later this year.

Then we have the latest case in point from UK’s Patrick Wolf, whose songs have alternately been darker, alternative affairs and fantastic bursts of pop/dance.  The vibrant, catchy pop of 2007’s “The Magic Position” won me over, wondering what Patrick would offer next.  It’s taken till now for something equally brilliant to surface, but the free download of the Richard X mix of “The City” signals good times are ahead for Poptronics.  Watch the feel-good video above, which captures the essence of the positivity in the song, and download the Richard X mix below while you still can.

Australian duo Bag Raiders signal the first signs of Western world summer – though for Aussies they are well into it right now in the East – with their latest song “Sunlight”.  What makes this sparkling song even more special is the presence of Poptronics whiz Dan Black on vocals, and the result is summer beach party central.  I can’t wait for what Mr. Black has to offer us next, and this kind of collab will help bridge that gap in time.  Be sure to get this one for free right here!

Blu Eden is a new pop/dance vocal duo who have already started to achieve some notoriety in London with some live showcases.  Comprised of vocalist Nora Blu and partner/producer Richard Eden, the duo combines a UK soul and club sound with edgy electronics, which are featured prominently in the crunchy production in the extended version of “Rip It Up”, the original version of which you can hear on their official website.  Songs like “Rip It Up” make the UK dance sound seem fresh all over again, and club DJ’s in particular should find favour with Blu Eden’s songs.

Lastly, 21 year old Toronto-based producer/DJ Volta! is a name to watch both for experimental electronica and Poptronics.  His Soundcloud page is full of interesting ideas fleshed out with swirling electonics.  You won’t be able to deny the infectious appeal of one of the songs remixed by Kash Jay called “Conan”.  The original song appears on Volta!’s Soundcloud page and doesn’t really sound too similar to the remix.  But the remix definitely gets planted in your head and stays there.  It works fine as an instrumental but something tells me that a honkin’ female R&B vocal might suit the song in an alternate version.  Check out the free download below.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #345 – Jan 31/11

The top songs on this edition of my personal chart stay the same once again. Penguin Prison’s amazing “Golden Train” hangs tight for a 4th appearance at #1, while Frankmusik’s addictive “The Fear Inside” follows at #2 for a third appearance. So what will happen in two weeks? I’m not so sure, but Rihanna’s “S&M” has made an interesting surge to #3 – the peak of 2007’s “Don’t Stop The Music”, her highest ranking song on my chart to date. Will she get to #1? There are a few challengers below.

Each song below makes a good case why it might reach the top in two weeks. “Monster” by Kanye West is one of his most ferocious and entertaining songs to date and moves up to #5. But he’s been to the top with Estelle in “American Boy” and to the runner up spot with “Gold Digger” – can he get to either again? Then there’s the beautiful rendition of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” by UK chanteuse Elouise, which moves up to #6. Last year, her “Pretender” soared to #2. “Falling”, the theme song to the 1990-91 TV show ‘Twin Peaks’ has been redone and reshaped by UK electro sensation Bright Light Bright Light, and becomes Rod Thomas’ 4th consecutive Top 10 entry here. Both “A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II” were #1’s last year – will “Falling” follow suit?

Then there are the extremely strong new entries to the Top 10. First is the scathing “Michelle” by LA fireball Ro Danishei which becomes a duet when Simon Curtis (who is apparently playing a show in upstate New York sometime in February!) enters mid-way. One of the most fun but aggressive songs in recent years, “Michelle” climbs 13-8. Then we have the dreamy, mysterious, fastest riser in the chart – “Night Air” by Jamie Woon, which zips up 18-9. Can’t wait for Jamie’s album Mirrorwriting, due out in Spring, but “Night Air” will do just fine right now. Then we have that early 80’s dance flashback courtesy of Javi Silva and his project Native Underground at #10 with “Till It Hurts”. JUST SO MUCH GOOD STUFF!!

A great trio of very different songs that debuted at the end of last year find themselves mid-way on this edition of the chart. Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” was prevented from #1 in the UK by “Grenade” by Bruno Mars, and rises 17-13 this week. Immediately below is Brooklyn’s fun rock indie couple Matt & Kim with “Ice Melts” from their sophomore CD Sidewalks at #14. Then Duran Duran are in full comeback mode as the title track from All You Need Is Now is #15.

More of the last chart’s debuts continue to do well. “Robot” by wild Toronto gal Andrea Lewis glides to #18, while Far East Movement join with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder for the uplifting “Rocketeer” at #19. Usher’s surefire hit “More” makes you want just that as it moves up to #20.

Two of our six debuts were featured earlier in the week in the blog and I can’t get enough of them right now, Christian TV’s “Love 2 Baby” and “I Won’t Let You Go” by Adam Tyler. An uncharacteristic but extremely likeable song that’s been on a slow burn is “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer. Create your own variation of his video for the song at his website right here.

I lived through 80’s electropop and one of my favourite acts was Alphaville, which started as a trio and essentially is now the performing name for singer Marian Gold. You know Alphaville from “Forever Young” (prominently sampled by Jay-Z recently on “Young Forever”) and “Big In Japan”, and now we have “I Die For You Today” at #28, from a forthcoming album called Catching Rays On Giant.  Alphaville almost toured in North America a few years back; a live clip of “I Die” is at the top of the blog.

It seems like they may be more than just your everyday boy band, but Canadian quartet Neverest have arrived with their debut single, a ballad called “About Us” which lands at #29. They are managed by Howie Dorough of Backstreet Boys and CJ Huyer of 3Deep (remember “Never Gonna Give Up” from 1999?), but we’ll need to hear more to see what else they have to offer. Great start though! And last is another emotional adventure from These Hopeful Machines, the latest album by electromeister BT. “The Emergency” is the final debut at #30. Its video is at the bottom of this blog.

The full chart can be found using the link to the right under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** or just click right here. Please leave any comments – thanks for reading!

Hot New Tunes with European Sounds from Christian TV, Adam Tyler,and Pierre Lewis

You can expect the sounds of the early 2000’s to start and creep back into the music scene.  Our favourite singers ages 17-27 were pre-teens and teens back then in those formative years of listening to music.  This explains the current rise of male pop/dance singers who now seem to be dabbling in an upbeat European pop/dance sound.  So flashback to 2000 and who was hot?  Britney, Christina, N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, Savage Garden, S Club 7, Sonique, Billie Piper, Westlife, 5ive, and European dance hits by the likes of Alice Deejay, Eiffel 65, Daft Punk, and Vengaboys.

“Love 2 Baby” by Christian TV

After ear-grabbing debuts with “When She Turns 18” – one of my faves from last year – and an edgy mixtape called Who The Fuck Is Christian TV?, the Detroit-bred, L.A.-based singer has not only been busy remixing for others – check out his version of Miike Snow’s “Animal” – but working on an upcoming album.  For a pop/dance record more along the lines of “When She Turns 18”, “Love 2 Baby” has it all:  Immensely hooky chorus, energetic vocals to pull you in, and a European keyboard backdrop that comes directly from the late 90’s.  Of course Britney tweeted about “When She Turns 18” last summer, so think about this:  “Love 2 Baby” is a great companion to “Hold It Against Me”.  And if you’re not stuck on Britney, well the song stands well on its own, creating more anticipation for Christian’s upcoming album.

“I Won’t Let You Go” by Adam Tyler

Adam’s been offering a lot of free music online lately – check out his affecting cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” especially.  Returning to a more emotional dance sound started by last year’s excellent “Friction” is “I Won’t Let You Go”, now available on iTunes in most territories.  So it starts off like it might be a ballad, but before you know it those Swedish “Better Off Alone” keyboards kick in, the energy level is cranked up, and you have a fantastic example of a mass-appeal worldwide hit.  Adam’s currently in England where he’s performing in an Electroqueer showcase tonight.

“Dangerous” by Pierre Lewis featuring Emshey

UK singer Pierre Lewis got my interest in late 2008 when the ballad “Broken” was released to some success in the UK and Europe.  It was then remixed by Joe 90 into an infectious dance track that took nothing away from the original ballad.  After knocking on the public’s doors with a few tracks since then, Pierre is back with a punchy dance sound for “Dangerous”, which features female rapper Emshey.  With a definitely retro sound both musically and vocal back to the beginning of the last decade, this one may be a harder sell but with proper word-of-mouth this could find its way into dance clubs throughout the world.  Download for free right here.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #344 – January 17/11 and more

These two weeks between personal charts go fast, and since the start of the year a lot of new music’s surfaced that I’ve been wanting to write about.  So let’s call this one a catch up blog (no, not Las Ketchup thanks, but nice try) 😉

  • Penguin Prison and Frankmusik once again rule the chart.  Mr. Glover is current on tour in the U.S. and I can’t wait till he comes back to my town.  “Golden Train” just chugs along at #1 for a third time – and with great retro velocity as remixed with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day and Night”.  Can’t wait for the debut album!
  • Then Mr. Frank releases a free EP Long Live Frankmusik which you can get right here.  Just to show why “The Fear Inside” is sweating it out at the top at #2, Long Live Frankmusik contains some of his best vocals today.  The ballads “Hurt You Again” and “Warrior” are beautifully touching, splendidly written.  “Our Discovery” is a timely tribute to Daft Punk – and then you realize it’s been 10 years since “One More Time” and 25 year olds were teens back then (and to me it would be nuretro).  “Hate Your Love” is more pop dance that isn’t quite as successful but all in all this is a brilliant taste of what’s to come for Frankmusik in 2011.
  • Andrea Lewis also gave us a preview of her talent in her intimate club show in Toronto on January 13.  Looking like a movie star who just stepped out of the screen, she performed five songs from her free for download release 54321:  “She”, “Linda”, “Teardrops”, “Voodoo”, and a dynamite slowed down version of “Robot” (minus the autotune too).  The latter song makes its debut on the chart at #25, and while she didn’t perform “Talk To Me”, the duet with Simon Curtis, the song still rises to #4.
  • Elsewhere within the Top 10, Rihanna’s “S&M” moves into the Top 5, followed by Kanye West’s “Monster” (yes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is very impressive), Elouise’s “The Winner Takes It All”, and, new to the Top 10, “Falling” by Bright Light Bright Light, in anticipation of the album Make Me Believe In Hope.
  • Javi’s latest project Native Underground rises to #11 with “Till It Hurts”, and while that’s on the go, the singer’s other project Chasing the Ghost is recording something new too!  Looking forward to it.
  • All of the debuts from two weeks ago make healthy moves, them being Adele’s theatrical “Rolling In The Deep”, Duran Duran’s 2011 meets 1986 “All You Need Is Now”, and Matt & Kim’s singalong “Ice Melts”.

Aside from the debut of “Robot” by the classy Miss Lewis, we have five other debuts.

  • Way up at #13 is one of the first and most stunning debuts of 2011. Rochella Danishei, formerly of trio Candy Coated Chaos, released her debut free album download End Of The Rainbow on New Year’s Day, and she did it with great company courtesy of producer Jadion and of course best bud Simon Curtis.  The album is a tight, aggressive different kind of pop record.  It may have a difficult time getting noticed what with Britney Spears dominating pop news and Lady GaGa’s next release on the way.  But really this record has a lot to offer in the form of songs like “Never Been Kissed”, “Unlove Pill”, the title track, and “Baby Doll” – identifiable lyrics sung with a lot of power by Ro with production that makes them crunch.  Best of all is a positively massive song, “Michelle”, in which a friend-turned-bitch is called out and how.  Icing on the cake turns the song into a duet with album cover mystery man Simon Curtis making the song even more of a treat.  It debuts this week at #13.
  • Next up is UK new pop/soul sensation Jamie Woon.  I had been meaning to check out his songs when blogger xolondon floated an amazing tweet about him and wrote this blog.  Young Mr. Woon has one of those persuasive blue-eyed soul voices for which I am an absolute sucker.  But the songs have to be good too, and his debut single from the upcoming album Mirrorwriting is “Night Air”, which has one of the most seductive-in-many-ways videos I’ve seen in a while.  Fans of the Twilight series will dig this video too. Watch it at the bottom of this blog.  Destined for the top, it debuts at #18.
  • First single’s a fluke I thought.  But there’s more to Far East Movement than meets the eye, as collaborators like One Republic’s Ryan Tedder might gather.  Mr. Tedder teamed up with the quartet for the second single from Free Wired called “Rocketeer”, and it’s one of the most uplifting songs on radio right now.  It bows at #26.
  • Roz Bell is one prolific and talented songwriter, and the Toronto-based singer unleashed his latest cadre of thoughts in the form of “The Gran Cavallo Mixtape”, which is available for free download right here.  My favourite of the lot is the pretty and straight-forward “Forever, I Do”, which arrives on the chart as his collabo with 100 Akres “Breakup Anthem” is about to depart.  Also of note from “Gran Cavallo” are “2000 Years”, “Brooklyn, Save My Life”, and “Sarah’s Song”.  If you haven’t already got to know Roz through his albums October and particularly 2008’s The First Sunbeams, then be sure to get acquainted with him through “Gran Cavallo”.
  • While it may seem redundant to say so, Usher Raymond is back and in fine form on his latest single “More”, which does not appear on any edition of Raymond v. Raymond that I’m aware of.  It’s a great percolating dance track, continuing in the vein of “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”.  “More” is Usher’s first chart appearance here in 6 years, the last being “Caught Up”.  I’m still very burned out on “Yeah”, which pop radio has killed into near oblivion.  But “More” is skilful, soulful R&B/dance that should do equally well as “DJ” and “OMG”.

You can view the full chart right here or using the link to the right under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART***.  Please post any comments you might have, I enjoy the opportunity to reply and chat!

All this, folks, plus new songs by the likes of Adam Tyler, Christian TV, and more, coming soon…

Tuned-On! Top 30 #343 – Jan 3/11

And so, we move on to the music of 2011. Leading the new chart are two performers that I expect will breakout of their loyal online followings to become much more popular this year.

Penguin Prison’s “Golden Train” is worthy of a disco ball trophy in the 70’s in its Royal Palms remix and continues its stay at the top of my chart. As a teaser, in case you wonder what Chris Glover can’t do, he posted an excellent online mashup of “Golden Train” with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day and Night” which you can download for free right here.

Then we have the case of Mr. Vincent Frank who, as Frankmusik, has brought us intriguing electro pop such as 2009’s “Confusion Girl”. Do not miss “The Fear Inside”, which bounds to the runner-up spot on my chart. This is one powerful song that will not leave your head. Mr. Frank also has a softer side, and a great set of pipes, which he shows off in “Hurt You Again” and “Warrior”, which were available online recently for free download, at this website. Another reminder of the talent that just smokes from Frankmusik.

Elsewhere in the chart, Brandon Flowers’ “Jacksonville” lines up at #3, while the gorgeous duet by Andrea Lewis and Simon Curtis takes it up a few notches to #5, “Talk To Me” (available on Ms Lewis’ 54321 album for free download right here).

Rihanna’s “S&M” and Kanye West’s “Monster” are two potent records that follow each other into the Top 10. Having now bought Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, you will see more from that record in these chart reaches soon!

The droll “Alors on danse” by Belgium’s Stromae, and Elouise’s rework of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” round out the newbies to the Top 10, making it two-for-two for Elouise, following the #2 “Pretender”.

The fastest risers on the chart are two of last week’s debuts. It’s an unconventional but apparently much desired cover version, as Bright Light Bright Light’s take on the “Twin Peaks” TV show theme “Falling” soars 23-12. Javi Silva’s latest project Native Underground also scores with the radio mix of “Till It Hurts”, climbing 24-14. Javi’s “Situation” got to #3 last year.

The first of this week’s debuts belongs to “Rolling In The Deep” by Grammy winner Adele, and I’ve heard this song everywhere, including supermarkets!! 2008’s “Chasing Pavements”, a #1 for me that ranked #7 at year’s end, is a tough act to follow but “Rolling” is a good introduction to Adele’s upcoming sophomore release 21.

The action on Matt & Kim’s latest album Sidewalks seems to have subsided a bit but it’s a fun, high energy release that definitely recalls their concert. The last song on the album is the big sounding, anthemic “Ice Melts” and it’s one of the most memorable tracks that certainly belongs on this chart (you can listen to the song at the bottom of this blog). The duo’s “Daylight” got to #4 in 2009.

Lastly there’s a veteran act that has never appeared on my chart since its debut in 1998. But of course they have many 80’s classics that would have easily charted for me back then. Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now”, the title track of their latest release (currently online only), is their best effort since the 90’s – I kinda liked their cover of Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines”. If the rest of the album is this good then we’re all in for a treat. Lead singer Simon LeBon however did appear as the uncredited vocalist on Ferry Corsten’s 2006 dance hit “Fire”, which reached #7 on this chart.

You can view the full chart right here or using the link to the right under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART***.

Tuned-On! Best of 2010

I’m soooo glad 2010 was an enjoyable year for music.  If there was any year that I needed distracting from everyday life, this was it.  I probably didn’t listen to as much as I should have or might have in past years, though it seemed like there was an inordinate amount of great new music out there.  It was difficult this year to come up with a Top 50 of 2010 that kept changing up until the last day or so.  The complete Top 50 is available right here or using the link to the right under Pages from BILLCS IS TUNED-ON!

Simon Curtis’ independent free release 8-bit Heart set the pace for the year and the rest just couldn’t keep up!  Four songs from 8-bit Heart appear in this list – and the last time four songs by one artist appeared in the list it was 2003, when four charted from Jason Mraz’s Waiting For My Rocket To Come, including the year end #1 “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)”.  The same thing happened in 2002 when four from Remy Shand’s only release to date The Way I Feel charted, including that year’s #1 “Take A Message”.  So Simon is in great company as the rave up “Beat Drop” grabs #1, the heartfelt “8-bit Heart” is #4, the bitter but powerful “Delusional” ranks #6, and the fun but naughty “Joystick” is #26 for 2010.  A slam dunk for the Robot Army in 2010, and more awaits in the front end of 2011!

I have great hopes for Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, in 2011.  This extremely talented singer/songwriter/producer/instrumentalist/DJ – yes he’s busy! – has three songs in the list, including the PopJustice Hi-Fi UK release “Love Part II” at #2, and tremendous freebies “A New Word To Say” at #8 and “Cry At Films” at #45.  North America next please!!

Penguin Prison, aka Chris Glover, will release his debut album via UK’s Wall of Sound label in February, which should contain several winners that I heard in concert in October.  PP’s 70’s throwback “The Worse It Gets” ranks #3 for 2010, and the innovative “Something I’m Not” grabs #9.  PLUS… his remixes of Australian band The Temper Trap’s “Resurrection” takes #5, and “White Knuckle Ride” by Jamiroquai is #24.

It ended up, unexpectedly, being one of my favourite albums of the year, and Brandon Flowers proved in 2010 that he had the goods to make it as a solo artist if he had to.  Flamingo is a much less raucous effort than those of the Killers, which may have thrown off some fans, and his live showcase in August was similarly low key.  But when song quality is as high as something like “Crossfire” then it’s difficult to complain.  “Crossfire” is #7 for 2010.

Both Mika and Lady GaGa continued their success into 2010 on different levels.  The third single from The Boy Who Knew Too Much – a sparkling pop/dance effort which got two songs into the Top 20 last year – is the best track from the album, “Rain”, which ranks #10.  GaGa became her own music and multi-media experiential force in 2010, and she slams three songs into the Top 50:  the King5cat remix of “Teeth” at #11, the ubiquitous “Bad Romance” at #15, and “Speechless” (played at the Grammys with no less than Sir Elton John) at #23.

If there’s one distinct voice to arrive on record in 2010 it’s that of UK chanteuse Elouise.  From her debut The Stardust EP comes “Pretender” at #12.  Next stop, The World.

And one distinct talent to welcome back in 2010 is New York resident Richard Barone, who put out a number of great solo albums in the early 90’s.  Richard’s “Glow” got smiles all around and is #13 for the year.

A carryover from 2009?  Dan Black toured the hell out of his debut record UN in 2010, and while he placed two songs in last year’s Top 10, one frantic dance number followed into 2010 – “Pump My Pumps” grabs #14.  He opened with that song when I saw his show in February.

Ryan Star spent the last five years building an extremely loyal following online after appearing in Rock Star:Supernova on TV.  That dedication pushed out his major label release 11:59, and I caught the CD release show in New York in August, which was an energetic and emotional blast.  Ryan’s tremendous songs “Start A Fire” (#16) and “Breathe” (#30) brought that to record in 2010.

California band Lifehouse have never been away for long since their debut release in 2000 – yeah it’s been 10 years since Hanging By A Moment!  Worldwide touring awaited them with the release of Smoke And Mirrors, which finds lead off single “Halfway Gone” at #17 for the year.

New York singer Javi had his first release ‘leaked’ in 2010.  The Monsieur Adi remix of the unofficially released “Situation” sparkled with 80’s panache and style and ranks #18.  New releases by his band Native Underground await us in 2011.

Until 2010, Kelis was someone that I never expected to see on one of my year end lists.  It’s hard to erase those mediocre memories of 2004’s “Milkshake”.  But the gal has lots of class and can sing up a storm, as she so aptly proved with one of my unofficial theme songs for the year, “Acapella” at #19.

As Penguin Prison has proved, great remixes work wonders.  Blake Lewis’ “Heartbreak on Vinyl” was heart-wrenching enough yet the LA Riots edit is a dancefloor killer, and ranks #20 for 2010.  “Friction” by LA’s Adam Tyler has enough energy bottled up to murder the dance floor as well, but the Ricardo Autobahn made it frenetic.  “Friction” is #22 for the year.  And like Penguin Prison, Russ Chimes is a DJ/producer/artist force unto himself.  Three fantastic videos set to his music told a story of kidnapping and intrigue – not just yer run of the mill dance music.  The best of those videos is for “Never Look Back”, and this splendid instrumental is #25 for 2010.

And while those songs to me are the Best of 2010, there were several other memorable songs that rank between 26 and 50, including those by new artists such as Florida-based Clayton Senne, UK duo Bim, LA’s Saint Motel and Christian TV, two more great pop tunes from Evan Taubenfeld’s debut Welcome To The Blacklist Club (following up two in the Top 20 of 2009), Australian pop/dance artist Nelson Clemente, Mike Posner, Miike Snow, UK’s Example, Vampire Weekend, and Canadians Justin Nozuka and Andrea Lewis.

I expect to broadcast these songs online (just the music, no talking!) in order in the afternoon of Sunday January 2 so watch for details!  Happy 2011 to all 🙂





It’s Not All About The Free Music

Although free downloads courtesy of the artists themselves certainly appeared online well beforehand, it wasn’t until 2009 that I started coming across absolutely fantastic songs… as good as anything that a major record label could give the world.  Connecting with the world-wide music-verse through Twitter was the catalyst as it became a social networking necessity for entertainers of all genres.  iTunes of course had been offering free singles of the week too, sometimes offering terrific songs, including independently released tracks, though varying with what country you’re in.  Hello “Before The Worst” by The Script, one of my favourites of 2009.

But it’s the performers who are doing it for themselves that interest me and make me ponder about their ultimate goals.  Witness Mike Posner, who released his mixtapes for free online in 2008 and 2009, and by 2010 ended up with a huge Top 10 hit with the addictive “Cooler Than Me”.  To me he’s the poster boy who made the transition from online phenom to major record label hit, accompanied by all the trimmings that one would expect – album, merch, tour, and so on.  Is it worth it?  Time will tell.  How long will casual fans stay attached if the next record doesn’t have the same magic?  Hard to say.  Will they download the next record if it’s free?  Very likely.  If it’s for purchase?  That’s a maybe – does that make selling a record a crapshoot?

What I find most magnetic about all of this free online business is that there seems to be a consistent method to getting that free music to fans.  Is this replacing the way I always understood the record biz to be – discovering, marketing and promoting new talent?  Has the record biz outsourced this to the online community?  Radio, for one, does not seem to feed into the online community other than perhaps as research.  Radio does not seem to want the latest sensation – radio wants that already grown for them, too.

It’s kind of silly if you’re not already known in some way through performing, concerts, music videos, or other entertainment vehicle, to start marketing yourself online from scratch.  You already have to be part of something.  Just as examples, the ever-talented Simon Curtis and Andrea Lewis were both part of the Nickelodeon movie “Spectacular!”, and Lewis had pedigree from being a cast member of TV’s Degrassi (alongside Drake, no less).  And they both released stunning free online records, 8bit Heart and 54321 respectively.

You Tube has taken posting videos online many steps further than that.  There is so much old and new music on You Tube that it’s mind-boggling.  So if a performer has several songs and has perhaps even invested in a video or two, You Tube is also a place to grow that fan base.  It also reaches the youngest possible audience, if that’s what you’re seeking.

Performers who take the extra personal steps make online sharing and communicating positively special.  It might just be in simple messaging, podcasts, fan forums, live broadcasts – though some I’ve tried to see have crashed the servers they tried to use.  It’s the next closest thing to shaking a fan’s hand.  As a music fan myself, that connection, however brief,  is very gratifying.

Even if they’re signed to a major label and can’t make their music free, it’s an important part of this process for the performers and their fans.  Evan Taubenfeld calls his fans The Blacklist Club.  Australian indie singer Nelson Clemente calls his fans his Cherry Tomatoes.  Lady GaGa has her Little Monsters.  Simon Curtis has his Robot Army, and I witnessed that effort happen almost instantly.  You’re not really a name brand, you’re absorbed into the action whether it’s through sentiment or something much more interactive.

And then there are remixes.  Although I tend to prefer the original versions of songs, remixes can be either extremely entertaining or utterly useless.  2010 brought us the amazing Penguin Prison and Bright Light Bright Light among others, remixers who are also DJs and performers too.

I love it when artists establish another identity.  Darren Hayes had a side project with songwriter/producer Robert Conley called We Are Smug with several great songs that were available for free for a while.  Producer 100 Akres has paired up with Toronto singer Roz Bell for two positively grooving free downloads, 2009’s R&B-laden “Pink Cadillac” and this year’s bouncin’ “Breakup Anthem”.  Collaborations like these beg for something more thorough, and I think music fans will buy that.

Speaking of fans buying their music, I’m not sure if that’s currently the goal of performers who market their music online for free.  It’s hard to say if they’re wealthy, have a solid source of income from something else (such as songwriting) as a foundation, or are everyday hard-working performers who try to use this technology platform as a launching pad for something else.

Some have already got merch, some don’t.  Some have toured, even briefly, some have not.  Some have had physical releases of CD’s – and have undertaken to sign each copy of a limited physical release, usually sold online or at concerts.  Some have videos – some are extremely well-crafted, others are home-made.  Some send or mail out their product themselves, directly from their own hands, others have people assisting them.  Some manage themselves, others are with agencies or managers.  Some have investors.  So if they’re not necessarily wanting fans to buy their music, how do they expect to make money?  And on what scale do they plan to ‘work’?

So yes, performers with free music online, you definitely have me and other fans at “Hello”.   You’ve got us interested and loving your tunes, we’re just kind of curious how it will all play out for you in the long run.   Engage and involve us, it’s okay to be ubiquitous.   Remix your songs and take the steps to make some things a little more personal.   Follow through, make and admit your mistakes, share the other side of the coin – every day is not amazing, as much as we would all like to think it is.

Find the ways to keep us coming back – even if one day your music is not available for free download.  It’s hard to predict what fans and the public will want, because quite simply it’s not all about the free music.