Bill’s Top 75 Songs of 2011

That annual ritual is upon us again.  I kicked it off with my previous post “And Visions of 2011 Danced In His Head”, which talked about my favourite 20 performers (and one compilation album) that made 2011 glitter for me.  I won’t go into much depth about those performers again, other than those whose songs are in my Top 10.  I’ve provided links to some notable videos and/or songs in my list below (click on the relevant song titles), particularly some you may not know, as well as some comments.  You can see the web-pretty list using the Best of 2011 list in the sidebar to the right or click right here.

Before we begin, only one performer has more than 4 songs on the list, and that is Simon Curtis, who had my #1 song of 2010 “Beat Drop”.  Among 7 entries, he has three duets on the list!  Then with four songs is Frankmusik, and with three songs apiece we have Penguin Prison, Elouise, Eric Saade, Ro Danishei, and Kyle Brylin.  These are no surprises if you’ve read this blog throughout the year.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin 🙂

BILL’S TOP 75 SONGS OF 2011

75 TILL THE WORLD ENDS  Britney Spears

Unlike much of the pop world, I have never much been a fan of Ms Britney.  But this year she recorded the best song of her career thus far which kicks off my year end list.  In fact one of the very best reasons for expanding my list to 75 songs this year was to include this song.  Well done – more like this please!
74 METAPHOR  Nick Hagelin

Watch Nick’s Twitter account for word about his upcoming single “X Games”!
73 JILTED LOVERS & BROKEN HEARTS  Brandon Flowers
72 WE DON’T MISS A BEAT Van Go Lion

Portland, Oregon duo Amy Paige and Josh Hoertzel make magical melodies together, and “We Don’t Miss A Beat” is their best yet.  Watch for more in 2012.
71 ICE MELTS  Matt & Kim
70 ANOTHER DIMENSION   Bass Robbers featuring Matt Blue
69 NEVER WILL BE MINE  Rye Rye featuring Robyn
68 THE CITY (Richard X emix)  Patrick Wolf

It was so grand to hear British singer Patrick Wolf full of positive and happy energy with songs like “The City” from his recent album Lupercalia.
67 TILL IT HURTS (Radio mix) Native Underground

Native Underground and singer Javi Silva (who gave us last year’s tantalizing “Situation”) are part of a New York City new dance/disco undercurrent.  Watch for more from them in 2012, including Javi’s other project Chasing The Ghost.
66 CINEMA  Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go
65 FALLING Bright Light Bright Light

BrightLightx2 aka Rod Thomas recorded this free download and unique interpretation of the theme from TV’s “Twin Peaks”, originally sung by Julee Cruise.

64 WHITE HORSE  Jessica 6
63 MORE (Red One Jimmy Joker remix)  Usher
62 STUPID WITH YOU  Eric Saade
61 MY FIZZY POP   Kyle Brylin
60 THEN I GO TWISTING  Erasure
59 ALL YOU NEED IS NOW  Duran Duran
58 THE LOVER’S RUMBA   Elouise

The first of three contemporized ballroom songs to appear in this list from the fantastic Ballroom Remixed compilation from our favourite UK torch song chanteuse.

57 KEEP YOUR HEAD UP  Andy Grammer

One of the most upbeat and carefree songs of the year also had one of the most enjoyable (and interactive) videos!

56 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE  Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi

I must say I was totally enthralled with Chris Brown’s performance of this song on the Grammy Awards – though it was really a lot of special effects that catch your attention more so than the song, you can imagine how much work went into it.  But I was totally puzzled that his record company did not promote this song to pop radio, and instead it became a #1 Dance Club Play hit.

55 TAINTED LOVE  Elouise

Another magnificent Steve Anderson production which turns the song best known as the 80’s hit by Soft Cell into a seductive, smoky, and empowering torchy rendition.
54 ALORS ON DANSE  Stromae

53 NEVER LOVE A DJ  Kyle Brylin

52 THE EDGE OF GLORY  Lady GaGa
51 DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART  Agnes
50 SUNLIGHT Bag Raiders featuring Dan Black
49 FAMOUS Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall or Randy Raymond

Canadian dance trio Audio Playground enlisted Kardinal Offishall for this infectious dance song that perked up Canadian radio playlists this Fall.

48 LADY LUCK  Jamie Woon
47 ROCKETEER  Far East Movement featuring Ryan Tedder
46 BAD DOG  Neon Hitch
45 THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL   Elouise

From the little belter herself, a live clip of this version of the ABBA hit which shows that Elouise has the goods and you’ll hear much more from her in 2012.


44 SET FIRE TO THE RAIN  Adele
43 MOVES LIKE JAGGER  Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
42 MONSTER  Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj

I will always listen to Kanye West’s music knowing that he can come up with greatness with the help of such friends… and to me Nicki’s outstanding rap in this song is what helped get her on the map.
41 FAIR WARNING (Dirty Vegas remix) Penguin Prison
40 VENOM Long Story Short

A hooky, movie theme-inspired rock song from this duo, who are from Quebec and L.A.  Watch for more from Long Story Short in 2012.
39 THE PUPPET WHO GAVE HIMSELF STRINGS  Simon Curtis

The most adorable song from Ballroom Remixed which shows a different side of Simon.
38 PREY TO THE BEAT   Ro Danishei

Prey To The Beat is the hidden gem in Ro’s End Of The Rainbow album.  It can easily slay the dancefloor!
37 BLOCK AFTER BLOCK  Matt & Kim

Block After Block is set to one of the best videos of the year – it’s just so much fun, like the duo themselves.

36 PULL THE TRIGGER  Adam Tyler
35 MULTI-MILLIONAIRE (Shook remix)  Penguin Prison
34 TALK TALK TALK  Darren Hayes

33 FIX ME  Matthew Kurz

Fix Me is one of the most heart-wrenching ballads of the year by L.A.’s Matthew Kurz, a new singer with an amazing voice.  Download his Mixtape featuring Fix Me right here.
32  CINNAMON  Matt Webb 

Guitarist Matt Webb  initially released Cinnamon as a limited free download before appearing on his debut EP Coda and Jacket.  It’s one of those perfect summer heartbreak songs that shows another side of this Marianas Trench member.
31 EVERYTHING I’M MISSING  Kyle Brylin

As Kyle enters an acoustic phase of his career, his electropop of 2011 leaves its mark especially with this hypnotic song with a video that makes you watch, even reluctantly. And what is it about the eye makeup that helps give this song a bit of a sinister side? 😉

30 SUPERHERO  Simon Curtis

Your Superhero arrived in May to stage the arrival of R∆.

29 STUPID (Brad Walsh remix)  Databoy

It takes a few listens until you realize what a smart release this is from this Austin TX duo.  It’s still available as a free download right here.

28 I WON’T LET YOU GO   Adam Tyler

Watch the colourful video from the best song on Adam’s Shattered Ice debut release.


27 MICHELLE  Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

Watch Ro and Simon perform this blistering duet from London, the first of two videos from that show in this list!

26 BORN THIS WAY  Lady GaGa
25 I’M IN LOVE  Christian TV

The first of two pop/dance confections on this list from the Detroit performer who now goes by the moniker JMSN.  Watch for more tricks up Christian Berishaj’s sleeve in 2012.
24 PRISONER OF LOVE  Jessica 6 featuring Antony Hegarty

Prisoner of Love is just one of those to-die-for duets that happen once in a while.  Hopefully this will be the first of many Nomi Ruiz/Antony Hegarty pairings!


23 BLOODSTAINED HEART  Darren Hayes

There are few performers who can convey heartbreak so conscientiously as Darren Hayes.  The best song on his Secret Codes & Battleships album is also one of his finest vocal performances.  Watch the video all the way through.

22 PUMPED UP KICKS (Skeet Skeet Show remix)  Foster The People

It’s very clear from their sold out concerts and their praised performances (even on TV’s Saturday Night Live) that Foster The People is not a one-hit pony.  Despite the strange subject matter, the song became one of the defining hits of the summer, but my preference is for the frenetic Skeet Skeet Show remix.
21 JACKSONVILLE  Brandon Flowers

Held over from 2010, Jacksonville is one of the songs on the deluxe version of Flamingo, an album that could have fared very differently if the excellent deluxe tracks had been the the core of the record.  Nonetheless, this is Brandon at his most unique – Jacksonville could have also been kicked up a notch with some dance remixes.
20 DISCO MOMENT Bright Light Bright Light

One of Rod Thomas’ very best songs contains several lyrics that can leave you teary-eyed while you dance:  “And I am open, I am open, but I might just close if… /You make it so hard to be around”.  The outstanding video will twist your emotions on the spot.


19 OUT WITHOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND  Jerry Reid featuring Ben Waters

The best song from the Ballroom Remixed compilation is this contemporary jive number, aided immeasurably by the magic fingers of Ben Waters.  Jerry Reid, too, is a new bad boy talent to watch in 2012.
18 TALK TO ME  Andrea Lewis featuring Simon Curtis

Toronto’s Andrea Lewis has another hold over from 2010 release 54321, with her 60’s retro sounding duet with Simon Curtis.  Watch the exclusive performance by these best friends from London below.


17 HURT YOU AGAIN Frankmusik

Pre-dating the Do It In The AM album by several months, it’s one of the rare tender ballads you will hear from Frankmusik, originally available as a free download.
16 SOMEONE LIKE YOU Adele
15 S&M Rihanna

Rihanna was a non-stop music-making machine in 2011, but S&M to me exceeded all expectations and made the music that followed pale in comparison.  She was at the top of her game but is now probably due a break for fear of that other industry-eating event, over-exposure.  The song also accompanied an interesting cadre of songs with suggestive topic matter, which all ended up in Billboard’s Top 4 on the Hot 100 earlier in year – the others were “Born This Way” by Lady GaGa, “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink, and “Tonight (I’m Fuckin’ You)” by Enrique Iglesias 🙂

14 DO IT IN THE A.M.  Frankmusik F/ Far East Movement

13 CAN’T HELP MYSELF (KEEP DANCING)  Matt Blue

One of 2011’s must-talents to watch is 19 year old Matt Blue, who hails from the Netherlands.  Songs like “Can’t Help Myself” transcend the record industry barriers for official release through their videos.


12 LOVE 2 BABY Christian TV

If there was any song that should’ve been a hit in 2011 it was “Love 2 Baby”, dance pop at its best and somewhat hedonistic video to boot.  Watch for the artist now known as JMSN in 2012.


11 NO I.D. Frankmusik featuring Colette Carr

One of the most joyous treats of 2011 was watching this completely unexpected video throwback to “Grease”.  Frank and Colette have great chemistry together – hopefully they’ll record again.


10 MADE OF POP  Eric Saade

It was never released as a single *hrumpf* but this love letter to Eric’s fans has some of the best lyrics that pop music could offer in 2011:  “My kings and queens /Are speaking through me / Got my degree / In the big P-O-P”.

9 ROLLING IN THE DEEP  Adele

Rolling In The Deep is the song that defines 2011 in pop culture.  It endured the entire year, became a massive hit beyond expectations, was covered – sometimes magnificently – a gazillion times.  More than any other song in the 21 album, it showcases the many broad talents of Adele.  Now let’s hope her voice recovers and we hear more magnificence in the next few years.


8 NIGHT AIR  Jamie Woon

One of the most mysterious and oddly appealing songs by this new English singer with deep down embedded talents.  While the video surely must have had “Twilight” as a source, its quiet is incredibly elegant.


7 THE FEAR INSIDE  Frankmusik

The best song from Do It In The AM was Frank’s first single from the album, released about a year ago.  Just release yourself to this one.

6 GOLDEN TRAIN Penguin Prison

Penguin Prison held court on my chart at the top of the year for two months with this song, which was made even better when Chris Glover paired it in a stunning mashup with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day And Night”, which you can hear and download in the link in song title.

5 LASER GUNS UP  Simon Curtis

It lasted from the first time I heard it in a live clip from a January show throughout the year.  Laser Guns Up is still my anthem for 2011.  And I still want some LEGO laser guns.  “This one’s for the people who’ve been told they’re never good enough / The little girls and boys who dream of what they wanna be / The little girls and boys who grow up into you and me”.
4 JUST ONCE Databoy

I had just heard “Stupid” and had not yet charted it before I was introduced to Databoy at the Superfraiche showcase in New York City in April.  And that’s where I heard this song.  Instantly, it became my song for the upcoming summer, and when it arrived as a free download there was no other competition.  I can’t wait for more Databoy music in 2012.

3 WICKED BABY Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

We had to wait till late Summer for this bonus track from the deluxe edition of Ro Danishei’s End of the Rainbow, but the best was saved for last.  This is the child of Ace of Base’s The Sign that you’ve all been waiting for, with a stunning dubsteppy breakdown amid another smoking Ro/Simon duet.  And I wasn’t the only one who loved it, check out My Fizzy Pop’s thoughts on the song too!

2 FLESH  Simon Curtis

There was no song more unique in 2011 than this second single from Simon’s R∆ album.  Totally different from even the songs within R∆, it’s a tour-de-force of sensual imagery carried by fierce production that will simply throttle you.  I still want to see it featured in a segment on TV’s “The Vampire Diaries”:  “You put your hand upon my neck and feel the pulse beat-beat-beat-beat /It’s like a trigger getting ready to shoot” and “Hold me up against the wall / Give it till I beg, give me some more /Make me bleed, I like it raw / Like it R∆ R∆ R∆”.
1 POPULAR  Eric Saade

“Popular” is the best and most captivating song of 2011 to me, which threw Swedish singer Eric Saade even more into the spotlight when the song won the Melodifestivalen contest and came third in Eurovision.  It signalled things to come, with Saade’s Volume One and Volume Two albums dropping before year’s end and giving us the year’s most  lighthearted, feel good, crunchy electropop, which hopefully will find its way around the world in 2012.  Eric Saade and his team have created the template, the rest of the world needs to catch on.  And if you’re a male pop singer, all eyes should be on Eric!  Watch the star-making performance from Melodiefestivalen again below.


Tuned-On! Top 30 #367 – December 5/11… Plus More New Music and Christmas Tunes

It doesn’t happen too often but my top two songs this week are by singers whose first language isn’t English.  And currently, both songs are only available in Europe or Scandinavia, something that I hope will be rectified in the future.  And they are both success stories in their own right in 2011.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right hereYou can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.

We have to go back to almost the start of the year when I first came across cover versions of songs like “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “What If” by The Netherlands’ Matt Blue.  He teased us throughout the summer with a clip of “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)”, which continues to have the marks of a smash hit all over it for me.  It finally got released in Europe this Fall, and now this talented cancer survivor has claimed the #1 spot on my personal chart.  No brain cramping here – just pure joy about getting out and having a good time, and sometimes we simply just need that.  Check out the video – again – below 🙂

On a different scale, of course, we have Eric Saade, who has basically took the Nordic countries for his own, courtesy of massive hits “Popular” and “Hearts In The Air” from the Saade Volume One album.  Last week, Saade Volume Two arrived with a similar blend of cosmic pop and magnetic electrodance – the harder and spicier the album gets, the better it is.  More on that later in the week.  In the meantime, the first single “Hotter Than Fire”, featuring Dev, almost beat Mr. Blue to the top, tearing up the chart with a 23-2 move.  So it looks like I’ll be listening to a lot more Mr. Saade throughout the month and into the holidays.  Given my initial impressions of Volume Two, Eric Saade is poised for international success in 2012.  I’m hoping remixes and a crack at the North American market will be in store.  If there is any music that I’ve turned to in 2011 for a break away from absolutely everything, it’s the songs from Saade Volume One, and Volume Two is exactly the logical continuation that might have been anticipated!  Here’s a live clip of “Hotter Than Fire” from a month ago.

Darren Hayes’ “Bloodstained Heart” still moves up to #3, while “Black Out The Sun” continues its rise up to #16.  With already three singles culled from Secret Codes And Battleships, I’m hoping that some other songs from the album might be given a chance, such as the hopeful “Don’t Give Up” or beautiful “Roses”.

The lower half of the Top 10 is party-central!  Matt & Kim’s “Block After Block” jumps to #6, with the forceful electropop of Agnes Carlsson’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” right behind at #7.  Kyle Brylin’s aggressive technopop of “Never Love A DJ”, along with Penguin Prison’s “Don’t Fuck With My Money”, and chanteuse-of-the-moment Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” (in a Penguin Prison remix no less) round out the Top 10.  Looking to break into the Top 10 in two weeks are “Then I Go Twisting” by Erasure and Jessica 6’s “White Horse”, both worthy of filled dance floors.

While great songs by Joe Jonas, Jon McLaughlin, Mika, The Midway State, and Jeronimo continue to reach new heights on the chart, four songs debut.  I can’t rave enough right now about “The Stars Are Saying Yes” by UK quartet Boy Banned.  It’s pop at its purest – a fantastic, simple melody, magical lyrics, and vocals to die for.  The song bows at #20 and is available on iTunes.  Here’s the absolutely charming video, again.

At #24, I go two songs deep into Joe Jonas’ Fastlife album – and if you asked me if that would happen six months ago I would have stared at you with a strange expression.  While I was interested in the Jonas project, I had no idea how good it was, especially after the drab first two singles.  For me, the killer on the album is “Make You Mine”, which has a vocal performance by Joe unlike anything you could have imagined.  The song has a warm lyric and seems to be a distant cousin of a song like “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson.  Look for this one to take off on the chart in the coming weeks.  Listen below for yourself! 🙂

Despite all the hoopla about the video, as well as its many excesses, which you can watch below, “Marry The Night” is one of the very best songs from Born This Way, and its timely release as a single is good enough reason for it to arrive on my chart at #27.  The Lady is everywhere these days, and I try not to get too overexposed to her for fear I will not enjoy her music as much.  Anyone else feel that way?

The last new entry on the chart is the upcoming second single from Shattered Ice, the debut album by Adam Tyler.  “Pull The Trigger”, my second favourite song on the album next to previous Top Fiver “I Won’t Let You Go”, just dipped out of the Top 10, leaving room for me to now add “Like A Drug” to the mix at #28.  I can’t wait to see the video, which looks like it has some massive choreography in store for us.  However I do need you to backtrack to the Shattered Ice album.  It’s been a mainstay on my playlist since its release in August.  And despite some of my initial quibbles about too much production, the album is many songs deep past these three.  “Music Freak” has become a little bit of a personal anthem, and I savour Adam’s less produced voice on the acoustic version of “I Won’t Let You Go” and the ‘orchestral’ version of “Emergency”.  Get it on iTunes and listen to “Like A Drug” below.

Bubbling below the chart we have some festive songs for the holidays, whether they be for Christmas or otherwise.

There are no better bubbles to drink than those of “Champagne”, and we have this new effervescent single courtesy of Australian singer Nelson Clemente, about whom you have read about many times in these pages.  This is a splendid change of pace for Nelson, whose songs are often wrapped up in intense emotion and mystery.  That he recorded someone else’s song this time just ups the ante for Nelson who has this modest kind of talent that people would kill for.  Listen to a taste (?) of “Champagne” below and purchase it on iTunes.  Nelson also this week officially releases his previously free EP Love.Feel.Dangerous (which contains “90 Days”, which you can hear below, and “No Protection”, which have both appeared in my chart) – be sure to get it on Amazon among other places.

“90 Days” by Nelson Clemente

New Yorker Joshua Desjardins gets around.  First he’s writing a song for (and about) dream choreographer Melanie LaPatin on her Ballroom Remixed comp, then he’s man about the comic store during the summer in “I’m A Nerd”.  He’s been performing a show in theatre district called “Joshing Around NYC”, and still has had time for a song highly appropriate for the season.  Sure to put a smile on your face, give a listen to “Macauley Culkin (Home Alone at Christmas)” below.  Then go watch the “Home Alone” series while the movies pop up on TV.  Then listen again.  Happy?  Video to come!  Buy it on iTunes.

The final Christmas song on Elouise’s latest EP Santa’s Little Belter is yet again another bang-on version of a recent classic.  Darlene Love originally sang “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”  for Phil Spector’s seminal Christmas album A Christmas Gift for You.  Listen to a clip below and purchase Santa’s Little Belter on iTunes.  Watch for more fantastic music from Elouise in 2012!

Lastly, we have a beauty of a holiday original from American singer/pianist/songwriter Gavin Mikhail, who has given us some lovely renditions of other songs this year.  This gentle holiday treat is called “Evergreen” and it’s matched with a delightful animated video that perfectly captures the song’s essence.  Buy it on iTunes and be dazzled by the video below.

10 Performers to Watch in 2010!

There may be other performers about to breakthrough in 2010, but these are 10 that caught my ear and attention in 2009.  With the right support behind them and the fanbases to get them through, I can see all of these performers being better known by the end of 2010!  They’re listed alphabetically.

DAN BLACK resident music mad scientist

After teasing us with a home mix unauthorized Notorious B.I.G. and Rihanna samples in 2008 on “HYPNTZ”, Dan Black’s musical scientifics found their way onto a debut CD in mid-2009 called UN.  This Englishman based in Paris (hence the title of the CD, the French word for ‘one’) creates breathtaking melodies wrapped in many studio tricks, which he then surrounds with intelligent, playful words and emotions.  “HYPNTZ” begat the lush “Symphonies” which caught online attention, as well as subsequent European singles “Alone” and “Yours”, which all feature creative and interesting videos.  Dan came across the pond to NYC for a showcase in the Fall, and just as the year ends we saw UN released in North America with “Symphonies” as the free single of the week on iTunes USA.  Club dates will follow in 2010.  Justin Timberlake and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic have both tweeted about him, so I’m sure that in 2010 the world will find out that Dan Black is the real deal.

CHARLIE BROWN sensitive rapper or edgy soul singer?

There was quite an online to-do about UK  soul singer and rapper Charlie Brown during the summer.  He was featured vocalist in one of those shoulda-been-a-hits called “The Rain” by Bless Beats and Wiley with the kind of vocal that makes a song really shine.  Then he released a free mixtape through his MySpace site that showed the edgy vibe that was only hinted at in “The Rain” – a particular standout is “Don’t Make Me Over”.  Charlie Brown is definitely well worth the chat – I’d like to see him catch on with international artists in a similar way to fellow countryman Jay Sean (but I’ll skip the duets with Lil’ Wayne and Sean Paul).

AGNES CARLSSON the new voice of Sweden

Agnes has been a star in her native Sweden these last few years, after triumphing on their own edition of American Idol.  In late 2008, Agnes released the CD Dance Love Pop, full of well sung pop trifles and dance ditties to tweak your ears and feet.  One of those ditties, Release Me, was a domestic success and attracted international ears, first starting in the U.K., where it was released, reaching #3 on the pop charts.  Then it spread to North America, where DJ’s and clubgoers grabbed it and sent it to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart.  Oft compared to Leona Lewis, and deservedly so, Agnes Carlsson proves that the right voice matched with the right song will create a launching pad for success, something that should grow for her internationally in 2010.

SIMON CURTIS a new breed of pop male vocalist

Though I had heard of Simon Curtis through a song or two that was featured in the Nickelodeon movie Spectacular! early in 2009, I did not find out what was up this Tulsa-raised multi-talent’s sleeve until later this year.  In fact, I caught on to all happenings Simon Curtis via Twitter just as his followers numbered over 6,000.  As his followers grew, he began to release new songs online for free, to preview the upcoming free ‘pop mixtape’ that he’s been working on called 8Bit Heart.  First up was “Delusional”, a complexly produced song about heeding (unwanted) advice that features crafty, soaring vocals (hello Darren Hayes high notes!) and 0ther moments of music magic.  In a different world, this song would be all over pop radio, but these days enough exposure online will grab new fans eager for great songs like this.  Next up was “Diablo”, a bit of entertaining but hyperkinetic vitriol at romance gone waaay wrong that you might not expect from Simon – it successfully flips Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” upside its head, and also makes a statement for the kinds of songs not being produced by young male pop singers of today.  So now we have 8Bit Heart to watch for in 2010.  Aside from the songs, I’m looking forward to whatever Simon offers next!

THE MIDWAY STATE no holes in their plans

These aren’t just any four nice guys from the Toronto area looking for domestic success.  They’re a talented bunch, led by singer/songwriter Nathan Ferraro, who toured the hell out of their debut album Holes back and forth across Canada and back again in 2009 and managed to score not only two Juno Award nominations, but also a duet with (of all people) Lady GaGa on a cover of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”!!  It all started with an unassuming song called “Never Again”, which took its time in late 2008 to catch on.  But it’s that song’s raw edges and extremely catchy chorus that grabbed me, enough to send me to two of their concerts.  Then came a domestic Top 20 success with “Change For You”, which was later remixed into a duet with Carly Rae Jepsen.  And after Michael Jackson passed way, they posted a free download of their sensitive cover of “Man in the Mirror”.  Like with Canadian rockers Marianas Trench, The Midway State has more to them than meets the eyes and ears, giving them enormous potential for an international breakout.

MIIKE SNOW their lucky rabbit’s foot

Towards the end of 2009, Miike Snow are becoming less of a mystery to me.  They’re a trio featuring Swedish DJ/producers extraordinaire Grammy winners Bloodshy & Avant (aka Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg) of Britney Spears (“Toxic”) and Madonna fame, and New York vocalist Andrew Wyatt.  It’s definitely an eclectic mix but I found remixes of “Animal” very playful with the year closing with a potentially massive club hit with “Black and Blue”.  The trio toured internationally throughout 2009 to extensive critical raves, which undoubtedly will continue in 2010.

RYAN STAR how to breathe right now 4 other people

After some limited success after appearing on RockStar:Supernova a few years back and releasing a CD with a band called Stage, New Yorker Ryan Star has led the indie journeyman rock star life.  With the advent of MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, Ryan has got the message out to fans interested in his earnest, hard-working style and vocally and lyrically powerful songs.   “Last Train Home”, featured in the film PS I Love  you, first caught my attention in 2008, leaving me begging for more.   Then I learned that Ryan had a CD called 11:59 in the works, and from those sessions in early 2009 came “Right Now”, which I initially thought was just so much of a rock-oriented cheerleading song… until the sentiment underneath grew on me.  Now I see that song as a major source of positive encouragement and reinforcement.  Later in the year Ryan released “Breathe”, accompanied by a video of actual people looking for work in the downturn of the U.S. economy.  Through hashes on Twitter and rapid word-of-mouth, this song and all that’s positive about it reached many ears and may have actually helped some of the people in the video get jobs.  So Ryan Star is U.S. Rock Star and Everyday Good Samaritan – a great combination well worth watching in the coming year!

EVAN TAUBENFELD welcome to his takeover

You may know him best right know as the blond-haired Baltimore-bred guitarist and songwriter from Avril Lavigne’s band in its “Complicated” days, but for the past few years, Evan’s had nothing better in mind than conquering the world one fan at a time.  He’s about to release the CD Welcome to the Black List Club through Warner Brothers, and gave us a few tastes of that CD in 2009.  “Boy Meets Girl” took a witty pop culture approach about meeting members of the opposite sex, while “Cheater of the Year” (my favourite song of Evan’s thus far) made no bones about calling out a previous object of desire.  And at year’s end, Evan shot and scored with the festive season by offering up “Merry Swiftmas” right at the time Taylor Swift is at her most popular, suddenly making her a more-than-welcome gift under young men’s Christmas trees!  Evan makes sure there’s always something going on via his website, MySpace site, or on Twitter to draw in even the most casual music listener.  He also endears himself to his live concert audience, as I discovered in Toronto in September – small crowd, lots of energy on stage, and plenty of opportunities to connect one to one with his audience members.  Be sure to check out Welcome to the Black List Club and a live Evan show in 2010!

SAM TAYLOR torch singer for a new generation

One of many beautiful voices out of the UK, Sam Taylor came to my attention while checking out the mostly kitschy soundtrack to the UK television series Beautiful People.  Amid the retro pop dance tunes came two gorgeous ballads with the BBC Orchestra, “Sometimes I Need You” and especially “Run Away”.  The latter song is my favourite of 2009 and one of the best of the decade, a largely unheard torch song for a new generation.  Sam’s voice will charm even the most casual listener of any age.  He’s got a London stage background to send him through, a penchant for taking risks (a smouldering version of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”), and a connection with online bloggers who have showcased him at small select club dates in London and New York City in 2009.  But as of yet… no album, and I believe, no record contract.  His MySpace site is only teasing us with a couple of other new and unreleased songs (like “Talk Me Down”, which quickly appeared and disappeared, and left me wanting more!).  He may not need that contract – once the online world gets to know Sam Taylor, his music will be everywhere and so will he to support it.  I’m sure Sam’s records will be on many Christmas lists a year from now!!

MANS ZELMERLOW our new mister charisma

2009 was a great year for male vocalists on the rise.  And though they didn’t keep the same pace as the female singers way out in front, they certainly held their own.  And though we haven’t yet seen Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow break out much beyond the domestic success he’s had during the past few years – in fact similar to that of Agnes Carlsson, and they have recorded together – his star-making performance in the Swedish music contest Melodifestivalen singing “Hope and Glory” attracted many online music listeners.  While the song itself is lyrically kitschy, Mans’ performance was absolutely stunning, full of charm and personality that doesn’t exude from many performers these days.  His CD MZW was released in the Spring, when it became a #1 album in Sweden.  MZW is an above average showcase of ballads and uptempo pop songs, but you can hear Mans’ personality the most in “Rewind”, a throwback to summer months that you would swear has been recorded by a laid back guy from the L.A. beaches instead of a Nordic country.  If Mans Zelmerlow’s songs can be marketed successfully outside of Sweden, he will join the likes of Agnes Carlsson and Robyn as one of the few untapped talents to reach international audiences in the next few years.

Tuned-On! Best of 2009, Part 2 (25-1)

To complete my thoughts on the best songs that I heard in 2009, here are a few words about each of my 25 favourites:

25. NELSON CLEMENTE “You Want Me Don’t You (Spekr Freks mix)”

My #22 favourite from 2008 received a blistering remix from Spekr Freks in 2009 that’s perfect for the crack of midnight at a club.  It bodes well for new music in 2010 from this South Africa based, Australian talent.

24. MARIANAS TRENCH “Masterpiece Theatre Part 1”

To me this is the showcase track from the Masterpiece Theatre, the first part of an intriguing rock opera that surrounds their other hits “Cross My Heart” (#37 on this list), “All By Myself”, and “Beside You”.  These west coast Canadians far exceeded my expectations with this well-produced and extremely well done record.

23. MANS ZELMERLOW “Rewind”

A new Swedish star who should be on the international tip sometime in 2010.  This breezy reflection on summer is only one reason for that.

22. GARY GO “Wonderful”

I missed this new UK singer opening up on Mika’s Fall tour but hopefully he’ll make the rounds again.  “Wonderful” is an urgent, heartfelt tune to turn to when you feel down in the dumps – it will certainly pick you up.

21.  RYAN STAR “Last Train Home”

The second song in this list from 2008 to receive a re-release, and the first of two in the Top 25 from this singer.  Ryan Star’s from NYC and this striking rock ballad commands your attention.  Few male rock singers these days have voices this good.

20. BEYONCE  “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”

Yes it was a little tired by year’s end with even Alvin & The Chipmunks getting in on the act, but there’s no denying the hook or the impact that it had on women at the start of 2009.  Songs like this show why Beyoncé is a superstar.

19. EVAN TAUBENFELD “Boy Meets Girl”

The first of two songs in the Top 20 from this talented LA-based singer/guitarist.  The mix of 80’s and 90’s pop culture references and playful vocals make “Boy Meets Girl” a unique gem looking to be uncovered a little more in 2010.

18. PRESETS “If I Know You”

I missed their Toronto concert so I caught it when I was in California in April.  This Australian duo creates such an intense show, more reminiscent of dark and dangerous 80’s acts like Shriekback and The The than anything else.  “If I Know You” is a little less dark and dangerous, focusing in on a great melody and story while maintaining that relentless beat that pervades their live show.

17. JON McLAUGHLIN “You Can Never Go Back”

I’m not sure if it was entirely intended, but this track from this Indiana-based singer channels the Electric Light Orchestra so much for me.  With ELO-like musical flourishes and melody, and even a reference to “Xanadu”, I was sold!  It’s one of the highlights of Jon’s OK Now CD even if I think so for all the wrong reasons.

16. NADIA ALI “Love Story”

This former iio singer released her debut solo CD Embers, which includes this #1 club hit.  Nadia has a great voice that’s been missed these past few years after the demise of iio (who appear a few times on my Top 300 of the decade), and this gentle dancefloor filler has hopefully kickstarted a long solo career.

15. PIERRE  “Broken”

Pierre Lewis is one of several new singers I enjoyed from England, and his emotional ballad “Broken” has endured throughout the year for me.  It also works just fine as a dance tune in a snappy remix by Joe 90.  Look for more songs from Pierre in 2010.

14. MIKA “We Are Golden”

“We Are Golden” is the anthem of 2009 and a great start to a sophomore effort following Mika’s success in 2007.  The Boy Who Knew Too Much is top notch ear candy that occasionally goes over the top – and enjoyably sol.

13. THE SCRIPT “Before The Worst”

It’s hard to believe some of these Irish lads were once in the boy band MyTown… they have come a long way to make a debut CD that appeals across the pop, rock and alt.rock genres.  “Before The Worst” is their second song on this list, and was released as a free iTunes single early in 2009.  It’s the best track on their CD, wearing its emotion on its sleeve while allowing the listener to empathize.  The journey for these guys has just begun!

12. FLORENCE & THE MACHINE “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

Florence Welch is a unique new voice for the next decade as heard in the powerful songs on her band’s debut CD Lungs.  “Rabbit Heart” for me has the most memorable imagery in a chorus of any song on this list and that combined with its gothic pop trappings makes it one of the finest records of the year.

11. MIKA “Blame It On The Girls”

If the triumph of “We Are Golden” was not enough, next up from Mika in 2009 was this simple and snappy pop/dance tune with a story.  It’s theatrical qualities make it pretty much irresistible.  I’m looking for Mika to take his show on the road again in 2010 so that I can see it all brought to life!

10. AGNES CARLSSON “Release Me”

The biggest breakout of the year from Sweden is Agnes Carlsson, who acquired an international #1 club hit and Top 5 UK pop hit with “Release Me”.  Great vocals, commanding performance, this song had it all.

9. DAN BLACK “Alone”

The first of two Top 10 entries from the talented Mr. Black from England is “Alone”, which is not a ballad but an uptempo dance track.  It’s one of several reasons to watch to see what Dan Black has to offer in the next few years.  The world needs more of his kind of musical alchemy.

8. RYAN STAR “Right Now”

The second of two entries for Mr. Star, could there be a more positive and upbeat song released in 2009?  This song makes you feel your mortality through your bones.

7. THE FRAY “You Found Me (Lenny B mix)”

Back in the Spring, I was listening to my car radio and a syndicated radio show was on.  As I was listening, all of sudden ‘YOU FOUND ME” resonates through the speakers – and instead of a softer AC melody what follows is a throbbing dance beat before the vocals cut in.  You see, I didn’t , and still really don’t, like the original version of this song.  But Lenny B transformed it and brought out the meaning of the song for me.  When remixes are great, they really work.  This one made my heart pound.

6. EVAN TAUBENFELD “Cheater Of TheYear”

“Cheater of the Year” was my introduction to Evan Taubenfeld in 2009, and is his second appearance in the Top 20.  Lyrically, this song pulls no punches about its subject, but Evan makes it fun and entertaining for the listener, and simply makes you want more.

5.  100 AKRES FEATURING ROZ BELL “Pink Cadillac”

“Pink Cadillac” is the best completely free download of the year.  UK based 100 Akres had a hand in producing Canadian Roz Bell’s 2008 hit “Yesterday Man”, but this time he brought Roz into his territory, this being a funky track that is highly reminiscent of some of the best blue eyed soul of the 80’s, such as songs by The Kane Gang and Paul Young.  That such a great track was given away to us music fans made me hungry for similarly great online freebies.  And you know what, they’re out there!

4. NOAH “Mannequin”

Other bloggers discovered Ottawa-based Noah before I did, but I’m so glad that I found this song through them.  Noah certainly has his own unique scat-type vocal style that when mixed with electronic dance music, creates an even more extraordinary blend.  I’ve read that he’s put on energetic shows in Ottawa and NYC.  While I couldn’t hear anything else quite as riveting from his CD Human Geometry, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Noah in 2010.

3. ROYKSOPP FEATURING ROBYN “The Girl & The Robot”

Norwegian producers Royksopp meet Swedish star Robyn for a brilliant moment in electronic dance music that had online musicphiles raving, and then there was the live performance video too.  It takes you to one of those magical places in music history that you know can’t be repeated.

2. DAN BLACK “Symphonies”

The second of two Top 10 entries for Dan Black found him taking two or three steps ahead of his 2008 download “HYPNTZ” by forgetting about the Notorious B.I.G. sample he tried to acquire and instead transforming it into this sweeping contemporary piece of electronica.  It’s one of the most beautiful songs of 2009 and the decade.

1.  SAM TAYLOR “Run Away”

“Run Away” takes my breath away every time I play it, and I first heard it back in February, so it has held court over the entire year.  UK singer Sam Taylor is such an understated talent, he has a voice and delivery that can make anyone melt, yet he’s only had a handful of songs appear online, and the only ones commercially available are through the “Beautiful People” TV soundtrack from which this song comes.  Watch out 2010, it could be Sam Taylor’s year!!

You can view the full list right here.

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 5 (100-51)

Online discoveries and remixes dominate the top 100 of this decade list.  It is like no other list I’ve created before, but it parallels my list of the 1970’s in some ways since I was discovering the UK charts and dance remixes in the latter part of that decade.  But there would have been no way for me to discover, without our current technology and without meeting online friends:

* Dance music available otherwise to club DJ’s such as songs by Casey Stratton, iio, Motorcycle, Axwell, Crystal Waters, Cassius, Armin Van Buuren, Roger Sanchez, and Matt Darey, including remixes of songs by Coldplay and The Fray

* Canadian talent from across the country such as Mitchell Hunter and Jake

* Talent from across the world like Agnes Carlsson, Freemasons, Adele, Duffy, and Newton Faulkner

* Lesser known artists awaiting their breakout, like Tyler Hilton, Evan Taubenfeld, and Dan Black

* Updates on favourites such as David Usher, Darren Hayes, and Chris Isaak

* Monitoring success of new decade favourites like Jason Mraz and Lifehouse

The ‘hits’ are still here too, though much less so than ever.  Discovered the traditional way were songs by 3 Doors Down, Leona Lewis, George Michael (“Amazing”), The Fray (“Over My Head”), and Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown.

So the Top 100 begins with the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments and observations!!

Mix Pod Playlist

I discovered My Space has a new playlist compiler called Mix Pod, so I thought I’d give it a shot today.  The playlist has 20 songs that are current (mainly on my chart, and the usual suspects) or recent within the last few years.  Click on “Get Tracks” below, which will take you to the playlist page where you can hear the songs!  The tags below this post will tell you who’s on the playlist 🙂

MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com