Bill’s Top 75 Songs of 2013 – Part I – 75-41

It Was All About The Great Voices

More than any other year that I can think of in recent memory, 2013’s best songs were all about terrific vocal performances.  Of course, any song with an insanely catchy rhythm can win you over on that alone, with vocals and lyrics coming in distant second and third.  I think what I hear is great singers who really should be receiving far more recognition than they are getting.  They can’t tour much, have dedicated fan bases, and spend a lot of time cultivating their path online.  It’s too expensive for performers to travel great distances to play for 150 people unless they can get a break with the costs involved.

In the commentary that follows, I’m not talking about all of the songs between 75 and 41, particularly those where performers also had songs higher up.  So consider what follows to be some highlights of the year 🙂

  • One performer who set the tone from the beginning to the end of 2013 is FrankMusik.  Granted Vincent Frank does have some moderate success behind him, but to do what he achieved in 2013 stretched his resources.  And achieve he did – two albums, Between and Between Us, an EP Far From Over, as well as two tours in the US and shows in the UK.  I was happy to ride the FrankMusik train in 2013 even though I didn’t get to see him perform this time because you never knew what to expect next.  Plus there’s his unbridled enthusiasm in creating his music, which ranged from frenetic to pensive.  And the stories he told, mainly so very sad but cathartic at the same time.  Two more FrankMusik songs appear higher up on my list. “Chasing Shadows” #72; “Life (Is My Revenge)” #69; “Fast As I Can” #56.
  • Another performer who had a great year, but with all of the bells and whistles possible, is Justin Timberlake.  He hinted that he would release his first album since 2006 at the end of last year, which was quickly followed by his single “Suit & Tie”, featuring Jay-Z (#73).  The powerful R&B/pop album The 20/20 Experience arrived soon after, the best selling album of 2013 no less, full of a varied set of songs that averaged in the 7 minute range, kind of risky in itself, but definitely a whole lot of fun when they weren’t too ambitious like the raucous “Let The Groove Get In” (#53).  By the time second single “Mirrors” arrived, it was already known that The 20/20 Experience Part II was on deck, and the very 80’s and Michael Jackson-influenced single “Take Back The Night” (#49) was upon us.  And with Jay-Z’s Holy Grail album, we were pretty much assured of hearing new Justin Timberlake music every day in 2013.  But even with all of the money behind this project, was it a total success?  I would say Part I achieved what it should have, and more.  I think there were missteps with Part II arriving so soon after Part I even though many of its songs were stronger than those on Part I.  But unlike recordings by independent artists, Parts I and II will pay for each other over time.  It was great to have Justin Timberlake back though as his voice was in fine, fine form.

Newcomers:

  • UK soul singer Charlie Brown had been featured on many songs and mixtapes over the last five years, but broke into the UK Top 10 with his uplifting “On My Way” (#75).
  • 17 year old New Zealand singer Lorde topped charts worldwide with her lyrically and melodically clever “Royals” (#68).  I couldn’t get enough of it for the first several weeks before it ran its course and peaked at #11.
  • New York dance duo Ghost Beach arrived on my chart with a unique sound that bridges punk and dance in the Penguin Prison remix of “Too Young”, which is #70 for 2013.
  • 20 year old Florida-born Ariana Grande was already well known to the teen set for her roles on “Victorious” and “Sam and Cat” as Cat Valentine.  But her stunning vocal range came to prominence over the last few years, and her debut album Yours Truly saw release in late summer.  It was however preceded by a winning single called “The Way”, featuring rapper Mac Miller, which got to #8 on my chart and is #66 for 2013.
  • UK pop singer James William has established himself with his Olly Murs tribute shows, but is also quite the astute songwriter as well.  His bright and shiny “Lay Your Love On Me” ranks #54 for 2013.
  • Another UK pop singer draws more from classic R&B influences to arrive at a contemporary sound that recalls Simply Red a lot of the time.  Sam Dickinson released his debut album The Stories That Occurred and “Learn To Wait”, its second single, is #50 for 2013.
  • L.A.-based Jarell Perry released one of the most sensational albums for free download in early 2013, Simple Things.  It’s full of powerful songs that make a really cohesive listening party as an album as a whole, which is unusual considering most performers are opting for EP’s.  The song that stuck with me most throughout 2013 was “9 2 5”, which tells why it’s so important to break out of a regular routine and experience life.  “9 2 5” is #45 for 2013.  Expect great things from Jarell in 2014, starting with the EP White.
  • NYC trio Andy Suzuki & The Method built on their existing east coast following (as well as a dedicated one in Brunei!) by releasing a full album, Born Out Of Mischief, which transcends rock, pop, jazz and country styles, led by fine vocals by Andy Suzuki.  The impressive “Dirty Floors”, which could be the theme song for any indie musician, got to #7 on my chart and is #42 for 2013.

Continuing from 2012…

  • UK duo Bim released their Lifelines EP in late 2012, and one of its best and lyrically most powerful songs was turned into a video featuring comic book images.  “Burn” is #74 for 2013.
  • UK teen favourite Conor Maynard paired up with Ne-Yo for the dance hit “Turn Around”, which is #64, while Ne-Yo himself brought some emotionally-charged R&B/dance to charts with “Let Me Love You (Till You Can Learn To Love Yourself)”, which is #61 for the year.
  • Daniel Bedingfield found much online success with his Secret Fear-Stop The Traffik EP and the award-winning video for last year’s “Secret Fear”, which he also directed.  More good things are coming from Daniel in 2014!  Joining the class of 2013 from that project is “O.V.E.R. U.” at #55.
  • Cambridge, MA quartet Passion Pit continued with singles from their 2012 album Gossamer, which often seemed to offer emotionally loaded lyrics over slight and bright melodies.  “Take A Walk” is a little different and stands out from the rest of the songs on the album.  It reached #6 on my chart and is #46 for 2013.
  • Australian dance duo The Presets offer synth-drenched otherworldly dance music which sounds like nothing else.  Their album Pacifica wasn’t always successful but the focal point to me was the intense album track “A.O.” (which stands for ‘adults only’), which is an unmade science fiction movie unto itself.  It’s #47 for 2013.

Returning Favourites:

  • At end of 2012, US quartet One Republic issued the single “If I Lose Myself”, which was eventually included on the band’s first album in 3 years, Native.  The single signaled a more synth-led sound than usual which I found to be very appealing, though it wasn’t until later in the year with “Counting Stars” that the group once again achieved massive success, reaching #1 in the UK and Top 5 in the US.  “If I Lose Myself” is #71 for 2013 – it may be re-released to follow up “Counting Stars”.
  • 2012 was absent of music from our favourite boy robot, Simon Curtis.  So the singer gifted us with an EP of songs written for others, called WWW, full of the expected electronic pop and dance bliss but somewhat different from what we had heard in RA and 8bit Heart previously.  But “Berlin Wall” (#63) is an unforgettable singalong anthem paired alongside the likes of “Laser Guns Up”, while “Do I Have To Dance” (#48) is a shattering dance epic as the singer pleads “notice me” but alternately screams “how long do I have to dance?” as if it’s the worst thing in the world.  Simon has a new song and dance video funded by fans which will appear in 2014.
  • Adam Tyler has been busy writing and recording his follow up to 2011’s Shattered Ice album after spending a lot of 2012 touring.  He gave us a taste of what he’s working on with the dubstep-influenced “Fade Into The Light” at #58.  The song was also featured on the essential dance compilation This Beat Is Poptronik… Volume 2… along with three others on this list!
  • L.A.-based Semi-Precious Weapons toned down their rowdy rock style a few notches for the anthemic ballad “Aviation High” early in 2013, which also serves as a lead-in to their upcoming release in early 2014.  Can’t wait to hear what these boys have to offer us!  Of note:  Jarell Perry also recorded a spot-on soulful cover of “Aviation High”, proving the song’s instant versatility.
  • And at #41 for 2013 is the Oscar-winning “Skyfall” from Adele, which got to #7 at the top of the year.

SONGS 75 to 41

The prettier web version should be online by the end of Sunday.

75 CHARLIE BROWN On My Way
74 BIM Burn
73 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE featuring Jay-Z Suit & Tie
72 FRANKMUSIK Chasing Shadows
71 ONE REPUBLIC If I Lose Myself
70 GHOST BEACH Too Young (Penguin Prison Remix)
69 FRANKMUSIK Life (Is My Revenge)
68 LORDE Royals
67 OSVALDO SUPINO Ma Radio
66 ARIANA GRANDE featuring MAC MILLER The Way
65 MATTHEW KOMA One Night
64 CONOR MAYNARD featuring NE-YO Turn Around
63 SIMON CURTIS Berlin Wall
62 SEMI-PRECIOUS WEAPONS Aviation High
61 NE-YO Let Me Love You (Till You Learn To Love Yourself)
60 LAWSON Juliet
59 PARRALOX Headhunter
58 ADAM TYLER Fade Into The Light
57 RIVER TIBER What Are You Afraid Of
56 FRANKMUSIK Fast As I Can
55 DANIEL BEDINGFIELD   O.V.E.R. U.
54 JAMES WILLIAM Lay Your Love On Me
53 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE Let The Groove Get In
52 LAWSON featuring B.o.B. Brokenhearted
51 PET SHOP BOYS Love Is A Bourgeois Construct
50 SAM DICKINSON Learn To Wait
49 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE Take Back The Night
48 SIMON CURTIS Do I Have To Dance
47 THE PRESETS A.O.
46 PASSION PIT Take A Walk
45 JARELL PERRY 9 2 5
44 CHRIS WALLACE Keep Me Crazy
43 WILLY MOON My Girl
42 ANDY SUZUKI & THE METHOD Dirty Floors
41 ADELE Skyfall

BILLCS Top 30 #407 – June 17/13

Travis Garland’s sweet and sexxy “Blue Electric Roses” holds on to #1 on my personal chart for a second appearance with ease, but that could change in two weeks!

  • Will it be Daft Punk’s huge hit featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, “Get Lucky”, that gets to the top?  The song advances 4-2.  But another song is brewing below.
  • Will it be the spectacularly high debut for “Vocal” by Pet Shop Boys at #4 (above)?  I still call it their best song in about 20 years, when you consider their classic heyday with songs like “It’s A Sin”, “What Have I Done To Deserve This”, “West End Girls”, their mashup “Where The Streets Have No Name/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, “Can You Forgive Her”, “Heart” and lesser known gems like “Love Comes Quickly”.  “Vocal”, however, is this year’s anthem for music lovers (particularly EDM/dance/disco/electronica).
  • Will it be the enticing “Somebody To Love Me” by Eli Escobar featuring Nomi Ruiz, which climbs 8-5?  Only “Outta My Mind” by young Dutchman Matt Blue seems to have peaked at #3.

And here’s where some rising songs get stuck and others start to fall because of the incredible competition in the Top 5.

  • “This Is How It Feels Like” by Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie (above) inches up to #6 but should still get to the Top 5.  It was a homecoming for Canadian Guthrie, performing at Canada’s Much Music Video Awards this past weekend.
  • “Your Touch” by Blake Lewis and “Pompeii” by Bastille are much played on my iPod Touch but tumble a few notches in the face of (gasp) stronger songs.
  • “One Night” by Matthew Koma from his upcoming album Arcadia slides into the Top 10 at #10.  Watch Matthew perform Zedd’s “Clarity” below 🙂

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

  • They move up 2 + 2 + 2 and closer to the Top 10, all very unique songs:  “Too Young” (Penguin Prison remix) by Ghost Beach, Parralox & Ryan Adames with “Silent Morning”, and “On My Way” by Charlie Brown – 12, 13, and 14 respectively.
  • The fastest riser on the chart is rising megatalent from Sweden, Anton Ewald with the insanely catchy “Begging”, bounding 27-15 (below).
  • Right behind are JT’s “Let The Groove Get In” at #16, FrankMusik’s beautifully vocalized “Chasing Shadows” at #17, and “Fade Into The Light” by Adam Tyler at #18.
  • Continue to climb are Bongiovanni’s bass thumping deep house song “I Think I Love You” at #20, soulful Slow Knights with “Shame” at #21, and “Brokenhearted” by Lawson and B.o.B. at #22.

Aside from “Vocal” by Pet Shop Boys crashing the chart way up at #4, there are two other fine debuts:

  • He’s back!!  Musical alchemist Dan Black teams with Kelis for “Hearts” at #23 (ab0ve).  Mr. Black took over my chart back in 2009/10 with two #1’s, “Symphonies” and “Alone”, #2 “Pump My Pumps”, and #7 “U + Me”, all from his debut album UN, and then guested on Bag Raiders’ “Sunlight” (#7, 2011).  Kelis is no stranger to the chart either, particularly with her 2010 #3 “Acapella”, which gives great voice to all us single folks.
  • I just raved about their album Born Out of Mischief, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see my favourite song from that album bowing on the chart.  NYC’s Andy Suzuki & The Method arrive with the impressive rocker “Dirty Floors” at #26 (below).

BILLCS Top 30 #406 – June 3/13

A new number one song and four debuts highlight this edition of my personal chart 🙂

Chart Highlights

Top 10:

  • By the end of 2013, I think a whole lot more people will know the name Travis Garland.  Big things are in store for this young talent!  From his still-free download EP Fashionably Late Part II is the stunning and original ballad “Blue Electric Roses” (new video above), which now leads the chart 🙂
  • FrankMusik’s “Map” leaves number one but will endure throughout the year as his third album Between approaches release next week!  More good news for Vince further down the chart…
  • It’s hard to resist the cheery and summery sound of Matt Blue’s “Outta My Mind”, which advances to #3.
  • Not surprisingly, even though the album Random Access Memories is somewhat disjointed and puzzling, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is one of the year’s most infectious singles and moves up 7-4.
  • “Your Touch” by Blake Lewis (below)  is finally about to be released to radio in the U.S. and jumps to #5.  Listen for it on your radio soon, it is radio-ready!!
  • With a new North American EP out just last week called Haunt, UK’s Bastille is still on the rise with “Pompeii” at #6.
  • It’s both a dance floor filler and a radio playlist delight, particularly in the UK and Canada – “This Is What It Feels Like” by Armin Van Buuren & Trevor Guthrie is new in the Top 10 at #7.
  • The fastest riser on the chart, moving 15-8, is an amazing slice of NuDisco called “Somebody To Love Me” (below) by DJ/producer Eli Escobar and featuring the mesmerizing vocals of Jessica 6 singer Nomi Ruiz.

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

11-30:

  • One of the year’s most gorgeous new voices belongs to L.A. R&B singer Jarell Perry whose poignant “9 2 5” comes in just shy of the Top 10 at #12.  It’s from his free download album Simple Things.
  • New York duo Ghost Beach climbs to #14 with the rollicking original “Too Young”, abetted by a Penguin Prison transformation to keep your feet very happy.
  • One of the year’s most interesting prospects is the cover of the 80’s Freestyle dance hit by Noel, “Silent Morning”, with splendidly unique vocals by Australian duo Parralox and Puerto Rican-American breakout Ryan Adamés, soaring to #15 – check out the many remixes on iTunes including the rock-inflected Cherry Cherry Boom Boom remix below.

  • Charlie Brown’s “On My Way” and “Kiss My Lipstick Off” by Georgia Haege both continue to make headway, rising to #16 and #18 respectively, and I’m still surprised Charlie’s song hasn’t been promoted in North America, it’s such a feel good anthem!
  • Last week’s debuts all push up the chart:  “Let The Groove Get In” by Justin Timberlake is now at #19, “Fade Into The Light” by Adam Tyler moves to #21, and “Shame” by Slow Knights (a Del Marquis multi-artist project) rises to #24.

Debuts:

I’ve written about all of our debuts previously, as recently as last week for one!

“Chasing Shadows” by FrankMusik is an aftermath to many of the songs on his Far From Over EP that will also be featured on the Between album.  It contains one of the singer’s best vocals and truly stands out in a crowd.  It arrives at #23 and I can’t wait to hear the full album and the songs that Vince has had to hold back from us amid all of the free songs he offers online.  He’s currently roughing it from show to show in the U.S. – be sure to follow him on Twitter for the full account of his diary!

After spending all of but one of its 9 chart appearances (18 weeks) in the Top 10, 3 at #1, “Lifted” by Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni tumbles to #13.  I wrote about another chilled out bass-heavy rework of Dwele’s “I Think I Love You” awhile back that the duo have created.  So billed strictly as by Bongiovanni, “I Think I Love You” premieres at #25.  Crank your car stereo for this one for full effect!  It’s also a free download!

If there’s one song so far this year that should have HIT stamped all over it – despite noticeable lack of North American release of their music – it’s Lawson’s new single “Brokenhearted”, featuring B.o.B.  Check out the new video for the song above.  It bows at #26 on the chart, as “Learn To Love Again” (#5) leaves the chart at #30.

Lastly, it’s already reached #2 in Sweden, but Melodifestivalen hit “Begging” by 19 year old singer/dancer/choreographer Anton Ewald shouldn’t go unnoticed worldwide.  That show often creates star-making performances and Anton’s (above) is one of them.  “Begging” debuts at #27.  Go ahead, borrow that Swedish male pop crown from Eric Saade 🙂

BILLCS Top 30 #405 – May 20/13

With so much new music arriving on the chart over the past month, there is considerable activity!

Amid it all, though, FrankMusik holds at #1 with “Map” (ab0ve), as the release date for Between as well as Frank’s US tour approach.  But it’s being immediately challenged by “Blue Electric Roses” (6-2, below), my favourite song from Travis Garland’s magnetic free download Fashionably Late II EP.  Travis’ song “Homewrecker” got a huge unexpected endorsement on Twitter this weekend by pop singer Richard Marx!!  “Lifted” by Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni slips to #3 but seems very attached to the top portion of the chart 🙂 “Outta My Mind” the Europop dance hit by Dutch singer Matt Blue jumps 10-4, while Willy Moon’s “My Girl” hangs in at #5 as his album Here’s Willy Moon looks to be released in North America soon.

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

Songs 6 through 12 are all on the upswing, which of course means that no song within the Top 5 is truly safe.  “Your Touch” by Blake Lewis is deservedly right at the heels of the Top 5, and it’s followed by the fastest riser on the chart, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, which climbs 16-7.  Could “Get Lucky” be one of the songs of Summer ’13?  Watch below, and check out the splendid alternate unreleased version with Sam Sparro on vocals.

Ariana Grande & Mac Miller’s “The Way” inches up to #8, while both Bastille’s “Pompeii” and “Aviation High” by Semi-Precious Weapons arrive at last in the Top 10.  Almost there are the radio-cranker “This Is What It Feels Like” by Armin Van Buuren & former soulDecision singer Trevor Guthrie (18-11, below), and “One Night” by Matthew Koma (14-12), which arrives in new remixes tomorrow on iTunes.  It’s from his upcoming album Arcadia.  Cherrytree Records has posted them on their Soundcloud site.

Meanwhile, “Somebody To Love Me”, the dance club rave-up by Eli Escobar featuring Jessica 6’s Nomi Ruiz soars 23-15, and Jarell Perry’s pensive but uptempo “9 2 5” jumps 20-16.  Ghost Town’s edgy “Too Young” in a definitive Penguin Prison remix rises 25-18, while both “On My Way” by Charlie Brown and “Kiss My Lipstick Off” by Georgia Haege (both below) land in the Top 20 finally.  And our third debut of last week, “Silent Morning” by Parralox featuring Ryan Adames, a cover of Noel’s classic mid-80s dance hit, moves up 26-21, with new remixes in tow on iTunes (including that crunchy rock-oriented one by Cherry Cherry Boom Boom).

At least one of my three debuts might be of surprise to you.  I’ve been fighting with myself about what song from Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience would succeed the #11 charting “Suit & Tie”.  Initially I was wrapped up in the beautiful “Strawberry Bubblegum”, but with all of the dance music energy on the chart right now the rump shaker and 70’s R&B-inspired “Let The Groove Get In” has won out and bows at #24.

Absolutely no stranger to the chart over the past three years is Adam Tyler, whose new and creative “Fade Into The Light”, especially with the huge dub-steppy break in the extended version, lands on the chart at #27.

I also can’t get enough of the song “Shame” by Slow Knights, a project spearheaded by Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis – again the powerful R&B vocal and groove get stuck in your head and make you move.  It’s from the project’s Cosmos album and bows at #28.

BILLCS Top 30 #404 – May 6/13 – Mapping His Way to the Top Again!

This edition of my personal chart is full of ups and downs with only a handful of songs staying static.

That of course means a new #1 song.  It’s very fitting that FrankMusik’s “Map” should grab the top spot (his third time, following “The Fear Inside” and “No ID”) with the imminent arrival of his album Between, and another of acoustic songs, Between Us.  In a case of great timing, Vince posted his acoustic version of “Map” (below) on Soundcloud last night, and it’s a lot more raw and cutting (and I mean, ouch!) than the original version.  The frenetic “Captain” also climbs to #4, and new single and video “Chasing Shadows” is on deck.  There’s so much happening with FrankMusik that it seems absolutely crazy, but I’m happy to be along for the ride 🙂

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

This means that “Lifted by Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni surrenders to second place after 3 charts (6 weeks) at #1.  Gentlemen Hall’s “Sail Into The Sun” holds steady at #3 – I hear some radio stations are now playing it, probably wise since it’s been all over TV for the last two months!  I can’t wait to hear more new music from the Boston sextet.  Willy Moon’s highly contagious “My Girl” (video below) soars to #5, and thank goodness it’s available as a single here since Universal Canada has not got around to releasing the Here’s Willy Moon album…

The Top 10 got turned inside out, with James William’s “Lay Your Love On Me” and “The Way” by Ariana Grande & Mac Miller each advancing one position.  They had to contend with the soon-to-be unstoppable force that is Travis Garland, whose stunning and direct blue-eyed soul ballad “Blue Electric Roses” is the fastest riser again, this time vaulting 18 to 6.  And right behind is “Your Touch”, whose song and groove are embedded in my head now, courtesy of Blake Lewis, climbing 16-7.  Then there’s also the irresistible dance fest that is “Outta My Mind” by young Dutch singer Matt Blue (video below), already advancing to #10 in its second appearance.

Also on the rise and likely headed for the Top 10 are “Pompeii” by UK sensations Bastille, Semi-Precious Weapons’ “Aviation High”, “One Night” by current travelling man Matthew Koma, “Heart Attack” by Demi Lovato (loving the remixes, video and remix below), plus huge movers “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk (27-16), “This Is What It Feels Like” by Armin van Buuren & Trevor Guthrie (25-18) which has become a massive radio hit in Canada, and the thoughtful ode about being stuck in a “9 2 5” (28-20) world by the new R&B singer with the amazing voice, Jarell Perry.

While “On My Way” by Charlie Brown and “Kiss My Lipstick Off” by Georgia Haege may seem stuck below #20, they will still likely move up in two weeks and attempt to hang around amid fierce competition, which includes three new entries, about which I’ve already written.

I love how DJ/producers like Eli Escobar are re-inventing Disco in the NuDisco format, deep house music mixed with old school disco, techno and trance at times.  His collaboration with Jessica 6’s Nomi Ruiz is a stunner, and “Somebody To Love Me” arrives at #23.  It appears on Eli’s EP Feel It.

Like Eli Escobar and Nomi Ruiz, the guys (Josh Ocean and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn) who comprise NYC duo Ghost Beach seem to mesh the past with the present with ease.  To think they were in town a couple of weeks ago, when I had just found out about the Penguin Prison remix of “Too Young”, which bows at #25.  What makes this record are the vocals which remind me of late 70’s Joe Jackson meeting Justin Tranter of Semi-Precious Weapons about halfway.  Listen below and pick up the remix as part of the duo’s EP Modern Tongues Remixed.

Lastly, it’s been a big week for Aussie duo Parralox and rising US singer Ryan Adamés and their wonderful team.  Parralox’s John Von Ahlen has unleashed an eye-popping animated lyric video (below) for their rendition of Noel’s seminal 1987 freestyle classic “Silent Morning”.  And as I wrote about earlier in the week, Cherrytree Records prez and Interscope Records VP Martin Kierszenbaum, aka Cherry Cherry Boom Boom, remixed the song to give it a punchier alternate identity (also below).  In either version, the song is a huge grower and I hope that dance clubs fawn all over it in the coming months.  It debuts on my chart at #26.

BILLCS Top 30 #403 – April 22/13

And the new music keeps on coming, with four new entries (all but one of which I’ve written about), causing premature exits on my personal chart for some songs, but it looks like we are in for a grand summer given the quality of music on its way.  And can the flavour of 1970’s disco make its comeback with the help of one of the new songs?  Read on…


“Lifted” by Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni holds tight at the top for a third chart appearance (6th week), and the guys are busy with other projects, including Bongiovanni’s “I Think I Love You” rework which I wrote about earlier.  Zedd & Foxes (video below) and Gentlemen Hall continue in the runner-up spots, with Lawson ranking 5th, while FrankMusik’s “Map” climbs to #4 and “Captain” rises to #6.  FrankMusik is no stranger to my Top 5, with two previous #1’s (“The Fear Inside” and “No ID”) and three other Top 10’s, including “Fast As I Can”, which will also appear on his upcoming album Between in May.  New single “Chasing Shadows” is on deck soon!  If “Lifted” doesn’t hold at #1 in two weeks, I think a new #1 will be a surprise 🙂

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

Most of the chart is in a tight lock, as often happens when a lot of new songs arrive, so there is minimal upward movement.  Nonetheless The Presets’ “A.O.” grabs #7, and “My Girl” by Willy Moon (whose album Here’s Willy Moon is still not out in Canada) rises to #8.  James William’s supremely catchy “Lay Your Love On Me” (sing it – wo-oh-oh-wo-oh-oh – below) becomes a Top 10 hit in its own right and it’s still available as a free download.  “The Way” by Ariana Grande & Mac Miller is becoming a deservedly huge pop hit and climbs to #10.

Songs by Matt & Kim, Semi-Precious Weapons, and Jerry Reid are still locked in below the Top 10, so there are bigger moves just below.  You can find me jamming in my car to “Your Touch” by Blake Lewis pretty much every day, and the song jumps to #16.  Matthew Koma’s glorious slice-of-life of “One Night” is right behind at #17.  But it’s Travis Garland’s “Blue Electric Roses” (below) which is the fastest riser, moving 25-18.  It’s a phenomenal song that gets better with each listen; the lyrics are pointed but thoughtful, and the vocals… well don’t get me started being overly partial to male R&B-sounding voices.  Travis has it in spades with his recent EP Fashionably Late Part II which you must download from his website.

Locked into the chart #20 and below are the bluesy jamming in “Right Back Home” by Lifehouse featuring Peter Frampton and Charles Jones (live clip below), Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack”, “On My Way” by Charlie Brown, and “Kiss My Lipstick Off” by Georgia Haege.

The newcomers to the chart are all pretty brilliant.

Dutch singer Matt Blue has already had two chart appearances in 2011, first with a collaboration with Bass Robbers called “Another Dimension” (#8), and then with his own feelgood jam “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)”, which got to the top of the chart in November 2011.  The singer has returned as featured in Kontor’s massive Top of the Clubs series, with his single “Outta My Mind”, which is now available on iTunes everywhere and makes a huge splash at #19.  There is no end to how great summery feelgood songs can be if they are done right, and I am looking forward to a full album from Mr. Blue one day that will show off his big, big vocal range.

Another Dutchman, Armin van Buuren, is back with a new album appropriately called Intense.  I’m predicting incredible things to happen with the first single “This Is What It Feels Like”, which I wrote about last week, and it bows at #25.  A major plus is the return of soulDecision singer Trevor Guthrie to the music scene, I just never expected it to be on a dance record.  Wise choice – it’s a great song, and van Buuren has a 10 year pedigree for successful emotional dance pop.

The big news of the last week was the official release of “Get Lucky” (at the top of the post), French duo Daft Punk’s return with vocalist Pharrell Williams (who sounds tremendous) in tow along with music legend Nile Rodgers providing his distinct, recognizable sound.  “Get Lucky” starts out at #27 but will undoubtedly take off in the coming weeks.  I think it could be not only one of the best pop and dance records of the year, but its celebratory vibe could bring back the happy disco sound of the late 70’s.  Young people have never experienced the glorious days of disco, and I think considering so many recent tragedies that the impetus is there for a joyous update.  The older disco haters have long gone… now is the time!!

Lastly, it’s hard to cherry-pick songs from Jarell Perry’s debut free download album Simple Things.  It’s ALL more than good and I will be a broken record about it over the next few months.  I’m leaning heavily towards the day-in-a-snapshot as told in “9 2 5”, a big and emotional song which arrives at #28.  Jarell Perry’s got way too much talent not to get a record deal, and if not, someone is missing out and he will succeed on his own terms.  Listen for this fantastic singer.

BILLCS Top 30 #402 – April 8/13 – Six Songs Debut!

The newbies are taking over, sending some songs that should have peaked higher down or off the chart.  And you’ll be more than a little bit surprised at some of the chart entries as I haven’t yet written about them 🙂

You can view the full Top 30 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 :)

It’s a no brainer that “Lifted” by Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni reigns supreme for another chart… with nothing below it really challenging to take its place in two weeks.  Good thing for our boys Danny and Victor, who are recording some follow up songs to this one 🙂  Right below, #1 Dance Club Hit (and now charting on the Billboard Hot 100 too) “Clarity” by Zedd & Foxes ascends to runner-up status, while the summertime smash-in-waiting “Sail Into The Sun” by Gentlemen Hall (above) climbs to #3.  Lawson’s “Learn To Love Again” moves up to #5 as a fifth single “Gone” will be released from their UK gold record Chapman Square.

FrankMusik has a double headed for the Top 5, as “Map” and “Captain” (both above) are now back-to-back at #6 and #7 respectively, while Mr. Vince Turner finalizes his new album Between.  The Presets are coming! The Presets are coming! Back to my city on their tour on May 10, with Dragonette opening!  The otherworldly “A.O.” becomes their second Top Tenner on my chart at #9 following “If I Know You”, which got to #4.  Willy Moon is on deck with Here’s Willy Moon arriving in most places around the world tomorrow, and “My Girl” follows “Yeah Yeah” into Top 10 status at #10.

And here’s where I have to choose what not to write about… a busy chart with six debuts.  3 of our last chart’s debuts make significant inroads.  Semi-Precious Weapons soar with “Avaition High” at #15, while Jerry Reid’s mysterious rocker with great lyrics “Tell The Night” follows suit at #16.  Bastille’s irresistible pop rocker “Pompeii” (above) is the chart’s fastest riser, moving 28-20.

But it’s those debuts that have my attention right now.  19 year old Ariana Grande’s “The Way” is one of the most instantly likeable songs out there right now, and the song (featuring rapper Mac Miller) bows at a spectacular #13.  It’s from the Victorious star’s upcoming debut album Daydreamin’.  That’s an interesting title.  Ariana’s ultra sweet vocal on “The Way” immediately captured Mariah territory comparable to her 90’s work.  Of course one of Mariah’s albums is called Daydream (not to mention one of my fave Aretha songs is “Day Dreaming”).  I think the reason I enjoy this song the most is that it’s the teen version of Estelle & Kanye’s 2008 hit “American Boy”.  But the gal has the built in goods in her voice, I have heard her sing live and she is the real deal.

Down further at #21 is one of the better known American Idol contestants, 31 year old Blake Lewis, with his latest single “Your Touch”.  This song has grown on me immeasurably over the last month, and it’s chorus is loud flat out belt-worthy with such a feel good vibe.  It’s from Blake’s upcoming third album Portrait Of A Chameleon, and it’s his first chart entry here since 2009’s classic “Heartbreak On Vinyl” got to #4.

I just wrote about it yesterday, but Matthew Koma’s “One Night” has wasted no time in debuting at #22.  Let’s see how good a job it does in two weeks trying to take over the chart as his most recent #1, “1998”, leaves after the mandatory 10 appearances (20 weeks).

First Ariana Grande, and now… X Factor judge Demi Lovato makes her first chart appearance here with “Heart Attack” at #24.  Her voice keeps getting better and better, so her new album, Demi, will be well worth hearing.  She attacks the cutting and biting lyrics like there is no tomorrow, and that’s exactly what was required for the song.  Bravo.

I’ve already been raving about Travis Garland’s Fashionably Late Part II EP being one of the best of 2013 so far.  My favourite song from it is “Blue Electric Roses” at #25 – the kind of innovative song that I was expecting on Justin Timberlake’s latest album.  But sometimes the innovation has to be left to others and I think Travis is on the right track for making the right kind of big splash soon.  The EP is available for free download at Travis’ website.

The last debut at #27 belongs to Mr. Charlie Brown, whose “On My Way” got to #7 in the UK last week.  He will be touring with Craig David in the UK soon, and I’m hoping his management has big things planned for a North American debut.  This is soulful pop at its best from someone who should have broke out four years ago.  Charlie is very big on interacting with fans on Twitter too @CharlieBrownLDN 🙂

They’re Back!: Justin Timberlake, Semi-Precious Weapons, Baby Bash (with Miguel), and UK singer Charlie Brown

Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”

For the next several months, Justin Timberlake is going to be everywhere, as would anyone who has a huge machine behind him to make as much happen as possible.  I think he’s going to need all of that exposure, too.  The 20/20 Experience, his third album and first in seven years, will need to bring it in more ways than you can slice it.  I really like the debut single “Suit & Tie”, but it hasn’t gone over the top, and instead is taking second fiddle to “Harlem Shake” and Rihanna’s “Stay” among others.  With a more straight-forward vocal, as we’ve heard in the past on songs like “Cry Me A River” and “What Goes Around…Comes Around”, “Mirrors” is definitely playing to his core audience, which is now seven years older, plus his *N Sync fans, who are now 10 years older.  He can croon anything beautifully, but really how exceptional is “Mirrors”?  Like “Suit & Tie”, it’s nothing if not solid.  Unlike key songs from FutureSex/LoveSounds (my favourite album of 2006, and “SexyBack” was my #1 song of that year), neither song is a game changer.  I’m crossing my fingers for some surprises within The 20/20 Experience.

semipreciousweapons2

Semi-Precious Weapons, “Aviation High”

I was wondering what Justin Tranter and the boys from NYC were up to after their high profile openings for Lady GaGa on the Monster Ball tour in 2009-10.  The band long preceded those gigs with high energy rock ‘n roll shows full of crazy antics which led to the release of their first record We Love You in 2008.  So now heading towards releasing their third record, this time through Epic Records, we find a more melodic, softer and soulful sound in “Aviation High”, released earlier this week and still available as a free download on Soundcloud (below).  “Aviation High” is definitely more of a group effort but with a big, anthemic quality should sound great in concert.  I’m thinking that the best (and more insane and more adventurous) songs are to come.  While some fans may scratch their heads at this one, I think Semi-Precious Weapons are just about to take things to the next level.

Baby Bash featuring Miguel, “Slide Over”

It seems somewhat coincidental given my recent raves over “Lifted” by my fellow Canadians Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni (which is essentially a cover of Baby Bash’s “Suga Suga”) that I happened to discover Baby Bash’s recent song and video, which now appears in this space.  10 years after “Suga Suga” perhaps lightning will strike twice, thanks to the featured vocal by another sweet-voiced singer, recent Grammy winner Miguel (and I’m a huge recent fan of his album Kaleidoscope Dream after his Grammy performance last week).  Certainly Miguel’s fans will appreciate this pairing with a soft rap song that still has enough spike from Baby Bash to rise above the rest.  This one deserves a shot.

Charlie Brown, “On My Way”

UK blue-eyed soul singer Charlie Brown first came to my attention in 2009 after appearing with a positively sweet vocal in an edgy piece of rap by Wiley called “The Rain”.  He then dropped a mixtape (O.M.S. – from it I still play “Don’t Make Me Over” regularly) which epitomized UK soul at the time, and made him one of my 10 Performers To Watch in 2010.  The powers that be then decided to try and re-market him as Charlie King, and then he fell off my radar.  Now he’s back – as Mr. Brown – with a fine, slick piece of pop/soul that could do some big damage to start in the UK, “On My Way”.  Can’t wait till a full album which will tell us what he’s been up to.

Meet Charlie King (formerly known as…)

To kick off 2010, one of my 10 Performers To Watch in 2010 has changed his moniker.  I’ve written a couple of times about Charlie Brown’s unique mix of soul and rap, and upon visiting his MySpace page today found that he’s now known as Charlie King.  There’s an excerpt of a new song posted too called “Freakin’ Out”.

OK this has got my attention! Visit Charlie King’s MySpace site right here.

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.