Get Inspired with “Colors” by @Hardwell & @Tiesto featuring @AndreasMoemusic

HARDWELL & TIESTO featuring ANDREAS MOE, “Colors”

There’s so much very busy EDM out there, and some of it, especially by major artists who are phoning it in, is becoming easy to dislike and dismiss.  Not so with the songs I’ve heard from  Dutch DJ/producer Hardwell (aka 26 year old Robbert van de Corput) on his latest album United We Are.  There are several collaborations, including one with Jason Derulo that will make you turn your head all the way around, but the most striking is “Colors”, a partnership with the reknown Tiësto and Sweden’s Andreas Moe, who has the uncanny ability to sing just about anything.  You already know Andreas from my blog posts about his own recordings and vocals on both Avicii’s “Fade Into Darkness” and John De Sohn’s “Long Time”.  The positive message, the lush production, those gorgeous arpeggios, plus Andreas’ truly engaged vocal make “Colors” one of the best EDM records around going into Spring.  The massive attack on club dance floors will ensue.  United We Are also includes last year’s UK Top 20 hit “Dare You” featuring Matthew Koma.  Get it on iTunes.

Published in: on February 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Tale of Two Different Oceans: “Ocean” by @AndreasMoemusic and “Ocean” by @VanessaElisha

ANDREAS MOE, “Ocean”

VANESSA ELISHA, “Ocean”

It’s strange sometimes when two songs arrive closely together with the same title, yet have nothing in common, except of course that they are both completely noteworthy 🙂

Readers of this blog know Swedish singer Andreas Moe all too well for his vocal appearances on dance hits by Tiesto and John de Sohn, as well as for an original EP from two years ago called Collecting Sunlight.  “Ocean” continues in the acoustic, folk-influenced vein, but this time there seem to be more traditional folk elements about the song as its story unfolds into something on the mystical side, captured nicely by the free-spirited look of the video, below.  Big things continue to happen for Andreas – such as opening recently for John Mayer!  His four song EP Ocean is due July 14, but in the meantime you can buy the title song on iTunes.

It’s hard to imagine such a deep R&B flavoured sound coming from an Australian singer, but Vanessa Elisha is back with “Ocean”, which continues a similar style started by “Home To Me”, from her previous EP Don’t Go.  Vanessa’s voice has all of the best qualities of the biggest name female R&B singers, but her style fits in more comfortably with those on the more alternative/hip hop side.  When she sings “surround me like an ocean”, you will immediately want to do the same (especially if it means warm Aussie waters).  She has a cool way of expressing longing and desire when missing her guy.  It’s no surprise that Vanessa’s main audience is in North America, it’s just a matter of getting over here for the exposure, which I’m sure will happen one day.  I’ve also heard that Vanessa wants to work with JMSN… would be a great pairing!  Listen to “Ocean” below.

 

 

Published in: on June 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Winter Popervescence #1: Gentlemen Hall, Andreas Moe, Adaku, Chloe Charles, Darin, Bastille, and Max Schneider

Two more of my 13 Performers To Watch for ’13  also have new music for us already  – Gentlemen Hall and Andreas Moe – making it five (the others being River Tiber, Lawson and Baiyu).

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Gentlemen Hall, “Sail Into The Sun”

The sharp melody of “Sail Into The Sun” will come at you from all directions, which is probably why Samsung has chosen to feature it in their 30 second ad for their smart camera.  So you’ll be hearing the song for the better part of the year, and thus it’s perfect for pop radio.  Aside from that melodic razzle dazzle, the song is as tight as anything you might expect from the Boston sextet, whose When We All Disappear EP continues to be a free download from their website.  “Sail” and other songs from Gentlemen Hall’s upcoming album should put them all over the international map this year.  “Sail” is also a free download from the band’s Soundcloud page below.

Andreas Moe, “This Year”

Swedish singer/songwriter Andreas Moe continues with the upbeat, melodic, and acoustic-based sound he began with on last year’s Collecting Sunlight EP with “This Year”, also the title of a new EP just released in Scandinavia, with the rest of the world to follow in March.  Andreas has the fantastic ability to create music that anyone can relate to, and make it sound unlike anything out there, with sparkling multi-octave vocals, standing out as a rich effort in a crowded playing field.  Watch “This Year” and listen to three other snippets from songs from the EP below.

Adaku, “Or You Can”

I first wrote about this song by Nigerian-born singer/songwriter Adaku last July, when its unique sounding take on retro R&B styles (and a catchy, singalong chorus) caught my ears.  It’s taken sometime, but a video for the song surfaced last week, and I must say it’s one of the most enjoyable, best-directed videos I’ve seen in quite sometime.  Rather than focus on a story based on the lyrics, the video has a 50s/60s look with an easy-going but engaging storyline that simmers along, making you unsure about what will happen until the last few frames.  Both the song and video are such winners, watch below and spread the word!  Adaku is currently working on a full album release.  Fans of Jill Scott, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Norah Jones will particularly enjoy this.

Chloe Charles, “Business”

Canadian singer Chloe Charles has already established a solid following in eastern Europe, particularly Germany.  Her classical jazz-influenced pop sound will appeal to those of you who enjoy Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, and Kate Bush in “Business”, from her upcoming album Break The Balance (already on release in eastern Europe).  Chloe is also a classically trained guitarist who has already been written up in major press worldwide.  Watch for her to make a splash domestically in March (she’ll also be performing during Canadian Music Week).  A bit of interesting trivia: She’s a step-sister of Julian Lennon, her mother being Cynthia Lennon.

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Darin, “Playing with Fire”

There was a bit of a gap between recent single “Nobody Knows” and “Playing With Fire”, but the latter has now been released in Scandinavia in anticipation of the singer’s new album Exit, due on January 30.  Darin Zanyar has been poised for international success since 2008’s Flashback album, but it hasn’t materialized after oodles of hits in Scandinavia and Germany, including “Breathing Your Love” (with Kat DeLuna) and “Lovekiller”.  He’s shifted his style from being Europe’s equivalent to Jesse McCartney to a more dance-oriented pop sound this time around.  Thematically, “Playing With Fire” is nothing new but Darin’s commanding vocal puts it over the top.  I’ll be interested in hearing more from Exit to see if this will be the record to break him outside of Europe.

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Bastille, “Pompeii” (Monsieur Adi remix)

Perhaps I’ve missed the initial buzz about this new UK quartet that has apparently signed with Virgin/EMI, but what better way to find out than through an exceptional 90’s sounding house-y Monsieur Adi remix?  “Pompeii” scores big with Dan Smith’s Chris Martin-ish vocal and a verse (“How am I going to be an optimist about this?”) as they parallel being in the crumbling title city to the collapse of a relationship.  Original version and remix are below for you to hear.  Bastille’s album Bad Blood is due in March and they are playing SXSW.

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Max Schneider, “Quicksand” and “So Sick” (cover)

Youngins will know New York-born Max as one of the featured cast of Nickelodeon’s now-cancelled “How To Rock” TV show, others will know him from being featured in a prominent Dolce & Gabbana campaign with Madonna a few years back (he also looks a bit like Nick Jonas).  Well young Max has a fine, big, soulful voice that stands alone without special effects thank you, and he’s also a talented songwriter, composing songs for his former show, “Shake It Up”, and the TV movie “RAGS”.  An album is due this year, and if its songs will be of the same calibre of “Quicksand” and his cover of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” (with Kurt Schneider and Sam Tsui), then you can look for more about Max Schneider in this space.

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #30 to #21

#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 ’13 and 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.  

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #40 to #31

#40 Labrinth featuring Tinie Tempah “Earthquake”

“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.

#38  Bright Light Bright Light “Moves”

#35  Bright Light Bright Light featuring Mykal Kilgore “Feel It”

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?

13 Performers To Watch for ’13

One of the most popular blog post’s I’ve written – even these past three years, it still receives many views – is 10 Performers to Watch in 2010.  I revived the format of that post for 2013, as there are too many promising performers who should not go without notice.  My criteria for this list is that the performer is releasing songs either for purchase or free download, and did not just issue one song in 2012.  The performer could be releasing a debut or sophomore album, and may already be signed to a major label.

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BAIYU   exquisite vocalist to soar beyond “The Next”

I was absolutely delighted when New York singer Baiyu was set to appear as a contestant on the CW’s talent contest “The Next”.  She also released a high quality mixtape called Hunter, which contained beautiful ballads, such as the duet with American Idol contestant Paul Kim on “Make Believe” (video below), and sinewy uptempo songs such as the title song.  She didn’t win the New York auditions on “The Next” (to me the show compromised the singer’s style with what they wanted to show on TV) but received exposure to-die-for, and recorded a few other viral cover versions including Melanie Fiona’s “4 AM” and even the Jonas Brothers’ “Paranoid” to tantalize Jonas Brothers fans who got to know her through “The Next” (since Joe Jonas was a judge).  I’m not sure what Baiyu has planned for ’13, but I expect it will be well-planned and chosen, and I can’t wait.  Her gorgeous Beyoncé-like voice at times could put her easily in the big leagues.

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CODY BELEW  our likeable multi-talented underdog from “The Voice”  

Nobody, but nobody, captured my attention on this past season of “The Voice” like Cody Belew.  From his initial performance of “Hard To Handle” (which caused coach Cee-Lo Green to turnaround at the last moment) through compelling renditions of “Jolene”, “Somebody To Love”, the deliberately and massively campy “Crazy In Love” (video below, because it’s just so much fun), and especially George Michael’s “One More Try”, it was easy to root for Cody, who just seized every opportunity to win over both coaches and fans alike.  The transition to nation-wide concerts will be easy, but more critical will be what he records.  All eyes and ears on Cody in ’13!

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BIM   UK duo flaunts their emotions

As I predicted last September, Bim’s EP Lifelines has become one of my favourite and most consistent records of 2012, and their second album is on deck for early ’13.  I stand by my earlier statement that every song within Lifelines – particularly “Lights Out”, current single “Burn” (video below), and “Scream” – is full of intense emotion, powerful vocal interaction, and key lyrical moments that resonate long after the song is over.  Rebecca Rosier and Denmark Davis are a dream team, and I for one can’t get enough.

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GENTLEMEN HALL  Boston collective’s fans are its anchor

After catching the sextet’s appearance at Canadian Music Week in March, I found their EP When We All Disappear growing on me throughout the year, and it is one of my most played records.  The multi-layered instrumentation (including glorious flute) and compelling lead vocals from Cobi Mike and Gavin Merlot made each song from the record a rich experience, especially “All Our Love”, “Blush”  (below), and “Take Me Under”.  Gentlemen Hall has a dedicated following, and quite frankly they could be contently touring every club in North America to appease their fans instead of signing their lives away to a record deal.  But I think the right deal will come along in ’13 for Gentlemen Hall that will take them to the next level for which they clearly are more than ready.

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IN MY COMA  Toronto trio brings out the rocker in you

It’s been on release for more than a year now, but Magnets & Miracles, the debut album by Toronto rockers In My Coma, definitely has durability with its contemporary take on 90’s alt.rock styles through songs like “Believe Me” (video below), “Dreamers”, “Hit Them Down Kid”, and “Losing Sleep”.  Part of the reason for the appeal, which seems to be increasing month-by-month, is the band’s ability to connect with fans and pull out the rockers in them which keeps them coming back to their shows, to the point where they won a contest to open for Sum 41 in Toronto in the Fall.  Keeping this strategy in place, the next logical step is a new record of songs, always tough to do when gigs are what bring fans to the table.  Timing will be everything for In My Coma in ’13 to maintain their momentum – but with their determination they can do it!

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MATTHEW KOMA  major pop voice sounds like no other

Regular readers will know that part of the last quarter of 2012 was spent with me raving about Matthew Koma, his collaboration with Zedd on Billboard’s #1 Dance Club Play chart single of the year “Spectrum”, and his diverse EP Parachute.  Matthew is Major Pop 2012, signed to Cherrytree/Interscope, and his distinct voice sounds like no other – in fact you might think on “Spectrum” and other songs that he is a teen instead of a mid-20-something.  Matthew’s finishing off his upcoming album which is a high priority for me to hear in 2013.  That he is also guy-friend to my fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen is pretty sweet, too.

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MATTHEW KURZ  supurb singer/songwriter has it almost in spades

Matthew Kurz has tantalized me throughout the last two years, first with his free mixtape from last year featuring the gripping and emotional “Fix Me”, and then with a series of originals and cover versions that were posted through You Tube.  Though he hasn’t released much for commercial sale or for free this year, 2012 is pointing in all of the right directions for Matthew with “Moving On” (available on iTunes), but most particularly “One Night (Damn!)” (below), and an absolutely stunning rendition of David Guetta & Sia’s “Titanium”.  While the latter wisely does not attempt to replicate Sia’s higher register, Matthew makes the song his own with its raw urgency.  While I believe he has a songwriting publishing deal, Matthew Kurz’s many talents and music should find a wider audience in ’13.

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LAWSON  UK quartet on the bubble for North America

While the year started off with talented UK foursome Lawson opening in North America for The Wanted, the band was also in the process of recording its debut album for Polydor/Universal UK, Chapman Square.  So once that was done they made a retreat to their native UK to promote singles  “When She Was Mine” (video below), “Standing In The Dark”, and “Taking Over Me”, all significant hits in the UK.  Chapman Square was released… but not in North America.  But upcoming club dates over here should draw out the fans who have become familiar enough with this band that writes its own songs and plays its own instruments to divert their attention from One Direction and The Wanted.  Lawson has the goods and 2013 should be a breakout year for them.

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ANDREAS MOE  can sing anything. writes his own songs too.

2012 has been a whirlwind for Swedish singer/songwriter Andreas Moe.  Dance music fans discovered him as a featured vocalist on songs by Avicii (with whom he performed in Japan!) and John De Sohn (“Long Time” is one of the biggest hits of the year in Sweden).  But Andreas wisely used these successes as a springboard for his own solo work, captured beautifully in his EP Collecting Sunlight, and especially on the title song (animated video below), “My Side Of The Bed”, and his acoustic rendition of “Long Time”.  He even posted a sparkling acoustic performance of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” right after its release.  But Andreas has one of those grounded and diverse voices that can sing anything.  I think greater things are in store for him as both a songwriter and a performer in ’13!

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CARLOS NOBREGA  balancing the pop and EDM worlds and more

Like a few other performers this year, I first discovered Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega through the essential dance compilation This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One, where his plaintive pop song “Pitiful” was featured.  With the EDM community embracing the singer as a result of this affiliation, Carlos next released “Turn It Up” in June, and the infectious chorus of this song will lift you up and keep you on a high.  Then he collaborated with producer/DJ Sky Santos for the sultry “I Miss You”, which led in nicely to one of the best (and still somewhat undiscovered) dance party songs of the year, “Music Makes You Lose Control”, a record that reached #1 on my personal chart.  Carlos is another performer who can do it all – sing, write, act, dance, and release all of his songs independently.  The sheer quality of his releases and his determination should make heads turn when his album is released in 2013.

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RIVER TIBER  engaging and unique talent not to be missed

The music of Toronto’s River Tiber has been discussed at length in these posts since the Spring, after I became acquainted with their album From Now On, from which three songs landed on my personal chart, with “Someday” at #1 for six weeks and “Symmetry” reaching #2.  Three concert performances later, and the third one, which I wrote about right here a few weeks ago, speaks for itself.  River Tiber releases its next effort Synapses on January 1, and there will be much more influence in this record by experimental electronica than in From Now On.  It is not to be missed.  Let the additional raves begin.  Watch out 2013!

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STONE WALTERS  honest-to-goodness earthy UK soul

One of the first free downloads I heard to make its way up my personal chart in 2012 was “Home” by Stone Walters.  The song has lyrics rooted in values that anyone can relate to – you know the same ones that you feel at the end of “The Wizard Of Oz”.  Stone has one of those silky smooth voices that could be as easily influenced by classic Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, as it could by more contemporary singers like Terence Trent D’Arby or Jay Kay of Jamiroquai.  Stone also showed that his boundaries stretch beyond soul with the pop tune “World Keeps Turning” and his softened-down version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”.  While he had a taste of some success a few years back, his more recent songs sound more honest-to-goodness.  Stone Walters deserves another shot as he will easily find an audience that will gravitate to his style and music.


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ZAC POOR  no vocal talent contest required

L.A. based singer/songwriter Zac Poor came to my attention a few years back with an initial release of his own songs such as “She’ll Be Breaking Hearts” and “Silver Screens”, which all attracted some significant buzz… and then it went quiet for a bit.  I think Zac has either a songwriting or record deal that has not yet come to fruition.  But two cover songs he released this past year will surely change that.  The first one is his take on Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”.  It’s been oft-covered, but never this well, and it totally blows the doors off of the original with a vocal performance that is sheer perfection, and understated production by MdL.  Had it seen proper release, it could have been a hit all on its own!  Next up was an appealing version of Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”.  All of this bodes very well for something significant to happen for Zac Poor in ’13.

BILLCS Top 30 #390, October 22/12

This edition of my personal chart is top heavy with activity, which means only two debuts and a number of songs which will exit the chart in two weeks (including DATABOY’s magnificent #1 “Dreams Are Gold” (#10), which is at its maximum 10 appearances – 20 weeks).

“Spectrum” by Zedd featuring Matthew Koma slides comfortably into #1 as the German producer continues his tour (stopping here in Toronto on November 2) to promote his new album Clarity. But the song will be battling it out in two weeks with the insanely catchy “Music Makes Me Lose Control” by Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega, which has been itching to bust a move up the chart these past few weeks, and finally does so, vaulting 6 to 2. This leaves “Remember When (Push Rewind)” by Chris Wallace at #3, “Go For Gold” by Kyle Patrick at #4, and the Green Children remix of “Houdini” by Foster The People at #5.

And there’s no shortage of movement in the rest of the Top 10. “Long Time” by Sweden’s John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe climbs to #6, “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding (below) jumps 10-7 despite getting lost in the extended success of “Lights”, and “Feel It” by Bright Light Bright Light featuring Mikal Kilgore is the only new addition to the Top 10 at #9.

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.  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 :)

There’s a bit of a log jam just outside of the Top 10, with “Unheard” by Jeronimo bumped up to #11, and Bim’s “Lights Out” rising to #12. But then we have the fastest riser, “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin soaring 24-14 and bound to be a contender for #1 in the coming weeks. Jane Badler’s sensational drama of “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” moves to #15, “Evolved” by Vague-à-bonde (below) climbs to #16 – the lady herself is opening for Diamond Rings in Minneapolis soon – with “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons and “Between The Raindrops” by Lifehouse featuring Natasha Bedingfield right behind. Lifehouse announced the title of its new album this week, which is called Almeria.

Last week’s debuts make bountiful moves. “Your Body” by Christina Aguilera zips up to #19, with Mika’s “Popular Song” immediately after, and Matt & Kim’s rollicking “Let’s Go” (official lyrics video below) bounding 30-22.

The two debuts this week are guaranteed to make your feet move. The renown BT has teamed up with young Russian DJ/producer Arty and the always marvelous Nadia Ali for “Must Be The Love” at #24. It’s a dandy hybrid of trance and house made even more conspicuous by Nadia’s signature voice, and resonates in the original 12″ version at the top of this page. Both BT and Nadia Ali are no strangers to my chart. Here are their respective chart histories:

BT

Simply Being Loved (Somnambulist), #1, 2003

Superfabulous (featuring Rose McGowan), #1, 2003

The Force Of Gravity (featuring JC Chasez), #3, 2003

Love Comes Again (with Tiesto), #5, 2004

Break My Fall (with Tiesto), #6, 2007

Suddenly (with Christian Burns), #6, 2010

The Emergency, #17, 2011

Nadia Ali and iio

Rapture (Tastes So Sweet) (iio), #3, 2002

At The End (iio), #2, 2003

Smooth (iio), #5, 2003

Is It Love (iio), #21, 2005

Love Story, #3, 2009

Believe It (with Spencer & Hill), #12, 2012

The remaining debut is “Good Girlfriend” by Danish producer/DJ Kid Massive featuring the one and only DATABOY at #25. This song takes a little time to catch on and will finally be available digitally in the coming two weeks. All kids of remixes abound with Alex Van Alff’s currently available as a free download. Do check out the video at the top of the blog. Not only does the song flow really well with the story, you get to see DATABOY’s Cameron and Adam performing (and you can match up the voices to the guys now ;).

BILLCS Top 30 #389 – October 8/12

While the rest of my personal chart is stunted with pent-up activity from songs on the rise, the songs at the top of the chart pretty much stay intact.  So that means we have the very talented Chris Wallace gracing #1 for a fourth time with “Remember When (Push Rewind)”, and you can watch for another song from the Push Rewind album to debut in these parts in two weeks.  

Zedd has been on Lady GaGa’s lips a lot lately, if you happened to miss the “High Princess/Stache” mashup on the weekend (it’s below).  So featuring Matthew Koma’s dulcet boyish tones, the German producer claims #2 with “Spectrum”, which looks to succeed “Remember When” at the top.  

“Go For Gold” holds steady at #3 for Kyle Patrick, while “Dreams Are Gold” by DATABOY (#4) continues to hang in the Top 5  – where it has been for all of its appearances but one (it debuted at #8) – while the loveable “Genius” continues to rise at #8.  “Houdini” by Foster The People holds tight at #5 with the free download of the Green Children remix, which is just cause for lots of random dancing.

There’s a long stretch of songs on hold or rising between #5 and #15, so I’ll touch on the bigger moves.  “Music Makes You Lose Control” by Carlos Nóbrega (below) moves 8-6, hovering  just below the Top 5 in anticipation of a bigger move in two weeks – can it get to #1?  I have been saying it since I first heard it – Hallowe’en dance parties, this is YOUR song!  

Vaulting 12-7 is the emotional Swedish dance music that is currently so appealing by way of “Long Time” by John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe.  Another dance floor filler is Markus Riva’s “We Dance 4 Reason”, holding at #9.  And then Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Can Happen” arrives at #10 just as her Halcyon album hits stores tomorrow in North America.  Let’s get those remixes onto iTunes as well, shall we?

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.  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 :)

The fastest riser of the lot is “Feel It” by Bright Light Bright Light featuring Mykal Kilgore, which soars 18-11.  Bright Light Bright Light has scored opening UK concert dates for Scissor Sisters, which I hope will translate into a second go round for the Sisters in North America.  Their “Let’s Have A Kiki” is still on the pulse of dance clubs right now, and BLx2’s own mashup of it and “Feel It” (“Let’s Have A Feel”) continues to put a smile on my face, prompting me to want to lock the door and lower the blinds… Listen below.

While we do not have a video for Colin Munroe’s triumphant “Over It” (up 17-13), we do have one for previous Top 5 single “The Fight Of My Life” from his mixtape Unsung Hero, so give it a view below.  There’s some intriguing imagery completely befitting of the song.  Well done!

That smashing duo from the UK, Bim, currently has “Lights Out” climbing the chart, moving 19-14, but in preparation for their stunning Lifelines EP (now on pre-order on iTunes – you can read my initial thoughts on it right here), the pair have a new video on deck below for next single “Burn”, which remembers those fond days when we as children could be superheroes for just one day.  There’s some pretty impressive graphic artistry, see the poster below as well.

“Yesterday’s Tomorrows” by Jane Badler climbs 21-17, but that captivating Stormby’s Drama mix of the song is now also featured on the compilation Kiss My Lipstick Off, now available on iTunes and featuring other fine folks like Liz Primo, Spray, and Nathalie Archangel.  Last week’s debuts all get stuck together temporarily at songs #20-22, waiting for a gap in the chart to occur (likely in two weeks), so be sure to check out indie release “Evolved” by Vague-a-bonde (watch for the video soon but in the meantime listen to the song below), Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time”, and “Between The Raindrops” by Lifehouse featuring Natasha Bedingfield (video also due soon).

You can watch the video for the lead debut on the chart (#24) at the top of this post.  While I’ve enjoyed the music of Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello over the years in solo and various other projects, their Swedish House Mafia project never really got on my radar till this year.  And apparently their album Until Now and sell out tour represent an end to the project.  I never believe ‘never’ in the music business, but in the meantime we can all enjoy “Don’t You Worry Child”, once again featuring outstanding urgent and emotional vocals by another of Sweden’s go-to-guys, John Martin.

I’ve long appreciated the powerful and soulful voice of Christina Aguilera, though her songs have not always been consistent and therefore haven’t appeared in this chart until more recently.  But every time a song has charted (this is the 7th time), it has reached my Top 10.  We’ll see if that happens with the outrageous but fun “Your Body”, which bows at #25 with the accompanying entertaining video.  It’s from her upcoming 5th studio set (excluding Latin, Christmas, and Best Of compilation) called Lotus.

I recently wrote about Mika’s The Origin Of Love album, which is a diverse collection that may take a few listens to grow on you.  One aspect of the record that is very appealing is how it lets loose on a couple of the songs.  So two songs debut on this chart, the quirky “Wicked” inspired “Popular Song” at #26, and then his duet with Pharrell Williams (himself no stranger to the chart, having appeared with Snoop Dogg on “Beautiful” and Robin Thicke on “Wanna Love U Girl”, as well as with his trio N.E.R.D. on the #1 “Rock Star” and “Hypnotize U”) on “Celebrate” at #29.  These songs mark Mika’s 7th and 8th appearances, with his most successful being in 2009-10 when “Rain” got to #1 and “Blame It On The Girls” and “We Are Golden” reached #2 and #3 respectively.  Watch the joyous video for “Celebrate” below.

And at #30 is “Let’s Go” by Matt & Kim, the lead single from their fourth album Lightning, which hit stores last week.  I caught them in concert last week and will have my thoughts about that show and their album in the coming week.  The duo have worked exceptionally hard to make all of their music accessible in various formats, and have created lyrics videos for each song on the new album.  Watch the video for “Let’s Go” below – I’m sure we’ll be seeing and hearing more from Matt & Kim as their tour progresses.  The Brooklyn, NY duo have previously reached the Top 5 on the chart with “Daylight” and “Block After Block”.

15th Anniversary Edition: BILLCS Top 30 #388 – September 24/12

In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, in other ways it’s like yesterday.  15 years ago this week I began posting my personal chart online on a regular basis.

As I was discovering the ‘Net through our dial-up connection in 1996/97, I was able to find message boards and chart sites where, yes, there were actually music chart geeks like me, who created their own lists of favourites, or sometimes a list of songs that were heavily influenced by radio play of the day.  I had compiled my own charts back in the 70’s, but abandoned that when I joined my university radio station, where I influenced their chart and my fellow DJ’s, and eventually became in charge of producing their chart!  I continued to assist with this well past graduation and into my free-lance writing days.  After that, I still produced my own lists but they weren’t charts, just a way to keep track of what I liked and what was current.

So the rabid presence of all kinds of music on the Internet has been and will continue to be a blessing for me, and I’ll keep on producing my chart as long as people are interested in reading it and chatting with me about it and its songs.  I posted charts now and again throughout 1997 online, but I don’t have copies of any of those charts until January 1998 when I began saving them and documenting them, because I just knew this wasn’t going to go away, though “Turn My Head” by Live was my #1 in September 1997.  So I’m 388 bi-weekly editions in (the first 8 months had a Top 10 only), and here’s what’s happening 🙂

His Push Rewind album goes several songs deeper, but “Remember When (Push Rewind)” by Chris Wallace holds at #1 for a 3rd appearance (6th week), with “Dreams Are Gold” by DATABOY not giving up second place yet.  This makes it difficult when two fun and engaging songs, “Go For Gold” by Kyle Patrick, and “Spectrum” by Zedd & Matthew Koma, each advance within the Top 5.  They are joined by “Houdini” by Foster the People, making it 3 for 3 for the trio following fellow Top Fivers “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Call It What You Want”.  Also – Mark Foster’s tweets under @FosterThePeople are so worth following.  He’s definitely got interesting opinions but also tweets about great things, including the challenge he gave to a photographer to lose weight over a number of months, with the reward being a financial amount from Mark himself.  Inspiring!

You’ll notice that “Spectrum” by Florence & The Machine is now out of the Top 5 at #7 and “Timebomb” by Kylie Minogue rests at #14.  But despite reaching #3 and #4 respectively, both songs will rank highly at year’s ends, possibly higher than some of my #1’s!  We’ll see!  Markus Riva’s “We Dance 4 Reason” climbs to a new peak at #9.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right 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 :)

The fastest riser on the chart, for a second time, is the completely crazy and irresistible “Music Makes You Lose Control” by Carlos Nóbrega, which leaps over his own “Turn It Up” (at #11), to move 17-8.  You can listen to the full song near the top of this post or below on Soundcloud.  Once “MMYLC” grabs you, it doesn’t let go, so you can find it on iTunes – and right now I’m waiting for remixes!  Carlos is just finishing off his album, and you’ll know more about that from me as it happens.  Joining “MMYLC” in the Top 10 for the first time is the irrepressible “Genius” by DATABOY at #10.  That song can also be found on the duo’s Dreams Are Gold album.

Lots of great new songs continue to move up.  A massive hit in Sweden, “Long Time” by John De Sohn & Andreas Moe climbs to #12.  Andreas also recorded an acoustic version on his Collecting Sunlight EP which I wrote about a while back.  “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding is whetting fans’ appetites while she’s on tour in anticipation of the Halcyon album, and rises to #13.  Jeronimo’s “Unheard” isn’t released as a single anywhere, but it’s my next favourite song to the title track of his album One Kiss and jumps to #15.  “Unheard” is just one of those singalongs where the lyrics just find their way easily into your mouth.  Jeronimo is starring in a new movie called “My Dad’s A Detective – The Battle”, and a video for his beautiful ballad “Firefly” includes snippets of scenes from that movie.  I’m not sure if we’ll see this movie in North America, but our young Netherlander is obviously a double threat!  Watch the video below.

Songs 16 through 21 keep the chart looking busy – as they should because every song on this chart is a winner regardless of where it peaks.  The offbeat melodies and lyrics of songs on Saint Motel’s Voyeur album are really appealing to me, and the clarinet-sample-led “Benny Goodman” is at #16.  “Over It” by Colin Munroe looks to follow “The Fight Of My Life” into the Top 10 and rises to #17.  “Feel It” is the latest single by Bright Light Bright Light, featuring Mykal Kilgore, and soars to #18.  Of course, Rod Thomas (aka BLx2) has double-whammied us once again with a new video for the song, and a mashup for free download called “Let’s Have A Feel”, which has great fun in setting Scissor Sisters’ #1 club hit “Let’s Have A Kiki” to the music of “Feel It”.  Watch the video and listen to the mashup below.

UK duo Bim are busy working on an album, and you’ll find out more when you go to their website and download “Lights Out”, which resides at #19.  Despite the blond look on the cover of his EP We Should, Kyle Brylin has returned to short brown hair for a new single, the piano ballad “Ain’t The Same” (which you can hear below and download for free from Soundcloud right here).  In the meantime, the chart sticks to the electro-house of the poignant “Hurricane”, which climbs to #20.  There’s always a place for a theatrical sound on my chart from time to time, and “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” by Jane Badler nails it in spades and rises to #21.

Rounding out the chart are three debuts.  I wrote about “Evolved” by Minnesota singer Vague-à-bonde (aka Nicole Brenny) a little while back.  The combination of soft, genuine vocals and one of the best chorus hooks you’ll hear this year sends the song into the chart at an impressive #24.  You can download it for free right here.  It’s taken a little longer than usual for “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons to sink in, but the opening episode of this season’s “Glee” has kept the song in my head (especially in its Penguin Prison remix, which you can get on iTunes).  “It’s Time” bows at #26 (watch the video at the bottom of the post if you’re not yet familiar with it).  And this past week I wrote about “Between The Raindrops”, the single from the upcoming new Lifehouse album, which features Natasha Bedingfield in a well-placed guest appearance.  The song arrives at #27 and is Lifehouse’s 9th entry on the chart since debuting back at the end of 2000 with one of my all time favourite songs, “Hanging By A Moment”.  Here’s the complete list:

“Hanging By A Moment”, #1, 2001
“Sick Cycle Carousel”, #20, 2001
“Everything”, #3, 2001
“Spin” #1, 2002
“You And Me”, #3, 2005
“Halfway Gone”, #3, 2010
“Had Enough” (with Chris Daughtry), “#11, 2010
“All In”, #8, 2010

BILLCS Chart #387 – September 10/12

I often refer to my bi-weekly chart as a list of my favourite songs of the moment, but it also serves as a recap of what I’ve been listening to over the last few weeks.

Suffice it to say, my last week has been filled with Chris Wallace songs from his solo album Push Rewind, which was released last Monday, and I posted my thoughts about it in the week.  Lead single “Remember When (Push Rewind)” holds on to #1 on my chart quite handily, the first of what I expect will be a few appearances for Chris on the chart in the coming months.  With three songs on the chart, DATABOY is hardly out of the picture, with “Dreams Are Gold” ranking #2 and the fun “Genius” rising to #13.  Both “Spectrum”s on the chart now surround “Go For Gold” by Kyle Patrick, which rises to #4.  Florence & The Machine stay at #3 with the Calvin Harris remix, and Zedd & Matthew Koma soar to #5 (the video is below if you’ve missed it).  Who will succeed Chris Wallace at #1.  Frankly, I just don’t know yet!

Also climbing within the Top 10 is Bright Light Bright Light with “Moves” from Make Me Believe In Hope at #6 – though it’s not the second single from the album (more on that below).  Right below is “Houdini” in a free download Green Children remix by Foster The People.  New to the Top 10 are Baiyu’s “Hunter” at #9 and “We Dance 4 Reason” from Markus Riva at #10.  Baiyu may get a wild card spot on “The Next” TV show in coming episodes due to her strong performance in the New York City round.  Markus has another single up his sleeve, with a video being shot soon for “Chase”.  The video for “Reason” is below.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right 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 :)

Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega is close to descending on the Top 10 with two songs, “Turn It Up”, which rises to #11, and the big, bouncy anthem “Music Makes Me Lose Control”, which is the fastest riser, vaulting 23-17.  The trance-oriented “Long Time” by Sweden’s John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe on vocals moves up to #14 (strange but eye-catching video below), Ellie Goulding’s infectious single “Anything Could Happen” from her upcoming Halcyon album rises to 16, “Benny Goodman” by Saint Motel is up to #19, “Lights Out” by UK duo Bim jumps to #22 as a free download, and “Hurricane” by Kyle Brylin is at #25.

Three familiar faces comprise 3/4 of our debuts.  My next favourite song from young Netherlands singer Jeronimo’s album One Kiss after the title track is the jaunty “Unheard” (listen below), which bows at #20 as “One Kiss” spends its last appearance on the chart after a maximum of 10 (20 weeks).  Then, Toronto’s Colin Munroe unleashed his latest mixtape Unsung Hero mid-last week, and I’ll have some detailed words on that in the week.  In the meantime, his free download of the empowering “Over It”, which I wrote about last week, arrives at #23.  The second official single from Bright Light Bright Light’s Make Me Believe In Hope is in fact the tailored-for-clubs “Feel It”, featuring Mykal Kilgore in a shimmering remix below, at #26.  The last debut, if you didn’t guess it from yesterday’s blog post, is “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” by Jane Badler at #28.