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 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

Music Is Our Release: Secondhand Serenade’s “A Naked Twist In My Story” and “Unsung Hero” by Colin Munroe

At the worst of times, music is our release, it’s where you can turn when you need to clear your head and fill it with something else.  John Vasely of Secondhand Serenade and Colin Munroe have had their bad times, and are fortunately such talented performers that they can share it with us through their music.

Secondhand Serenade “A Naked Twist In My Story”

We have actually heard John’s story, back in 2008 when its sparkling, doe-eyed showcase song “Fall For You” could be heard everywhere (it got to #7 on my personal chart).  But it’s one of the few happy songs on the record, coinciding of course with the start of a promising relationship that ultimately falls apart.  A Naked Twist In My Story is A Twist In My Story stripped away to near-bare bones, but without the studio enhancements the story becomes a much more emotional and personal affair.  

I can’t really say that “Fall For You” is improved; this version is its gritty companion.  Being in a different place myself in 2012 than in 2008, the pain and sorrow of songs like “Why”, “Pretend”, and “Goodbye” is better understood and the raw performances shine through.  There’s a lovely new bonus song too, “Belong To”, which doesn’t set out to be another “Fall For You” and I think is the point of hope that we all reach at a certain part of our stories.  I saw Secondhand Serenade in concert three years ago.  About 80% of the attendees knew the words to most of the songs that were played, and John and his band made a medium sized venue quite intimate for their fans, many of whom will be on board for this new part of the story.

A Naked Twist In My Story is an independent release that will whet your appetite for Secondhand Serenade’s fifth full album, due later this year.  Buy it on iTunes and listen to a snippet of “Belong To” below.

Colin Munroe, “Unsung Hero” (mixtape)

If I’m reading the lyrics correctly (and I may not be), I’d say that Colin Munroe struck rock bottom in both professional and personal hell in the last few years.  However, as strange as life turns around, we are benefitting from the results through his new record deal with Capitol/EMI and his compelling recent releases, which have landed inside his latest mixtape “Unsung Hero”.  And it’s definitely a different kind of ‘unsung hero’ that we heard back in 2008 with his mixtape “Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero” or when he first appeared as a featured artist on songs by the likes of Donnis and Drake.

 “Unsung Hero” doesn’t rest on one kind of style of pop music, navigating easily through accessible but cutting pop like “Over It”, the cathartic R&B hip hop of “The Fight Of My Life” and “Scars ‘N Stars”, the almost giddy “Fucking Amazing”, and the thought-provoking, deliberately paced “Your Eyes”.  Colin Munroe has such talent with his craft that one shouldn’t forget that his vocals are spot on, too.  And he has a bevy of friends to help him build his castle of a  resolve, including Cassie, K.Flay, Pusha-T, Kendrick Lamar, Memoryhouse, and RZA.  In some ways, “Unsung Hero” is also a good companion to JMSN’s †Priscilla† of earlier this year.  

“Unsung Hero” may still be available for free download at some sites, but I’m not sure if that was the intent.  Regardless, you can stream the entire record on Colin’s Soundcloud page below.  I’d say Act II of Colin Munroe’s musical career is well-underway with a lot more ahead for us to hear.

Published in: on September 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

September Pop Grab Bag: Colin Munroe, Sky Ferreira, Vague-à-bonde, Sam Sparro, River Tiber, Vista Cruiser, Elle Vee, and Jane Badler

Colin Munroe “Over It”

Colin’s new Unsung Hero mixtape finally dropped today, but preceding it last week was “Over It”, which isn’t as heavy as “Fight Of My Life” and “Invincible”. Even in more of an accessible pop vein like this, the Toronto performer’s sympathetic vocals and resolute lyrics are extremely powerful. Expect more of the same grittiness in the mixtape, but I’ll save my comments about Unsung Hero for later in the week.  In the meantime start yourself with “Over It” by downloading it right here.

Sky Ferreira featuring Blood Orange “Everything Is Embarrassing”

At last, it’s a Sky Ferreira song that captures the sexiness and vulnerability I saw on stage in New York City in April 2011. It’s a pretty sparse and fragile sound from her upcoming EP Ghost that could easily put the much-praised Sky in the same leagues as Ellie Goulding in no time. More like this please… and remixes could send clubs positively spinning.

Vague-à-bonde “Evolved”

Hailing from Minneapolis, Nicole Brenny has recorded her second album under the name Vague-à-bonde, and in advance of it comes “Evolved”. Not far removed from Sky Ferreira or Ellie Goulding but with the tough edges we find with Pink and Rihanna, “Evolved” starts out gently unassuming and then seemingly out of nowhere comes this amazingly hooky chorus that will simply slay you. After all what would a vague-à-bonde be if not restless? I can’t wait to hear a live performance of “Evolved”. Get the free download right here and look for more soon from Vague-à-bonde.

Sam Sparro “We Could Fly”

Backtracking to the soul/funk and emotional pop combo of Sam Sparro’s sophomore album Return To Paradise, I would like to humbly suggest “We Could Fly” as the next single. After the video of the the downbeat but cathartic “I Wish I Never Miss You”, “Fly” could serve as a reprise of the vibe of the first single “Happiness” and with some innovative remixes will help this intriguing album gain momentum again.

River Tiber “What Are You Afraid Of”

As regular readers know, I consider Toronto band River Tiber to be one of The Finds of 2012. I adore the many moods of the debut album From Now On, particularly “Someday” and “Symmetry”, which reached #1 and #2 on my personal chart. Led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Tommy Paxton-Beesley, River Tiber segues into more experimental electronic pop/rock on “Afraid”, full of gorgeous smatterings of electric guitar, which all resonate through the images in the video. Watch below, and look for many more fine things to come from Tommy and River Tiber this Fall.

Vista Cruiser featuring Vanessa Barfod “I Dig, You Dig”

A humorous party rock song will always get my attention if the whole package rises among the generally inane setting. Such is the case with Montreal’s Vista Cruiser, comprising Mich and Andy Manaras, who were more known for rocking out a decade ago than the fun electropop behind “I Dig, You Dig” would let on. But with platinum award-winning producer John Nathaniel somewhat uncharacteristically at the helm, and a clever, eye-popping video, you will have a tough time getting the song out of your head. So party on…

Elle Vee featuring Tek-neek “I Like Girls”

Hailing from L.A., Elle Vee is Lindsay Vinarsky, a diverse songwriter whose “I Like Girls” puts her definitively in Britney Spears sounding territory but with lyrical bite that takes no prisoners along along with a well-placed rap. Give a listen below and check out numerous other songs, which show some other sides of Elle Vee on her Soundcloud page.

A reminder, in anticipation of its video launch on Saturday, September 8, do check out Jane Badler‘s wonderful “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” below in all of its original glorious drama and then in the so chi chi Stormby’s Drama Mix. I’ll have the video coverage on the weekend. There are all kinds of details on Jane’s Facebook page .

BILLCS Chart #379 – May 21/12

While the chart’s a tad late, it’s worth the wait, he says poetically 🙂 There’s a new #1 song and 14 songs in a row that are surging upward.  Not surprising, we’re springing closer to summer!

With writing so much lately about the ongoing successes of Bright Light Bright Light, it’s no surprising that Rod Thomas takes #1 for a third time on my chart with the extraordinary “Waiting For The Feeling”.  It comes in anticipation of his debut album Make Me Believe In Hope, and more new songs too!  River Tiber’s mystical “Symmetry” holds at #2 from the exceptional indie effort From Now On, which also yields “Someday”, which slips down to #3.  Judging from his website, it appears that Colin Munroe has signed to Capitol Records, and my #4 “The Fight Of My Life” (featuring Pusha-T), is no longer available for free download but is on iTunes for sale.  It’s well worth the purchase; in the interim get his newer song “Invincible” (featuring RZA and Memoryhouse) from his website with an email subscription.  The energetic “Call It What You Want” by Foster The People now rounds out the Top 5.

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.

I’d love to comment on all 12 songs ranking #6 through #17 but I’m going to focus on those that are fast rising or in the Top 10.

Two songs from This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One bookend that list.  At #6 is the frenetic “Celeb” by The Netherlands’ Tao Hypah, and moving up to #17 is Latvia’s Markus Riva with the beautifully sung “How It Feels To Be A Man”.  Look for more Poptronik to bust onto the chart in the coming weeks.

I had the pleasure of seeing Tyler Hilton in concert for the second time on May 17.  The positive energy in his show was contagious and he was really stoked to play a second night in my city.  He focused on new songs from Forget The Storm (bypassing my favourite Tyler song, “The Letter Song” – but it wouldn’t have fit the set anyway 😉 ).  “Prince Of Nothing Charming” leaps into the Top 10 at #7 , appropriately becoming Tyler’s 7th Top Tenner on my chart.  Not only this, but the first song we all heard way back in January in advance of Forget The Storm, “Loaded Gun”, bows at #21 just in time to reacquaint yourselves with it (live clip from the Toronto show above).  If you don’t know it yet, download it for free 🙂  Below is a list of Tyler’s Top 10’s from my chart:

When It Comes, #3
The Letter Song, #1
When The Stars Go Blue (with Bethany Joy Galeotti), #2
How Love Should Be, #10
Missing You, #4
You’ll Ask For Me, #7

Sam Sparro’s upcoming Return To Paradise album is being released in Canada by EMI Music, not sure about the rest of the world.  “Happiness” is a great start to that record at #8.  It’s somewhat fitting that a cover of a song Donna Summer recorded (albeit as a cover itself) was on my chart at the time of her passing last week.  Elouise’s faithful but still original spin on “Could It Be Magic” moves up to #10.

The fastest rising song (for the second time at the top of this blog) is one of the most insanely catchy and instantly likeable songs of 2012 thus far.  Mixed with some traditional elements and personality plus, “One Kiss” by another Netherlander, Jeronimo, soars 24-9, looking to be a key player on the chart very soon.  Look forward to Jeronimo’s One Kiss album as well!

The official release of Scissor Sisters’ “Only The Horses” just passed as their album Magic Hour soon approaches.  It climbs 19-11.  “Music Freak” by Adam Tyler inches closer to becoming the third Top 10 hit from Shattered Ice at #12 this week.  I’m still enjoying the fab Bright Light Bright Light remix of “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes, and the song moves up to #15.  Separated by three chart points are two songs that are so different yet so go together for many reasons, obvious or not 😉  Quigley (aka Casey Carlson) is the featured vocalist on her beau FrankMusik’s “Notice Me” (billed as Vincent Did It) at #16, while her own stunning ballad “Inkblot Game” (also produced by FrankMusik) jumps to #19.  Don’t forget to download Quigley’s EP Pleiades and Vincent Did It’s The SOPA Opera EP both for free while you can.  Next up from her is a video for the song “Making Plans”.  And don’t think that the modest 5 point move will slow down the UK’s Conor Maynard.  “Can’t Say No” is well on its way at #23.

I’ve already written recently about the other two debuts.  “Collecting Sunlight” by Sweden’s Andreas Moe is another song that just reaches in and grabs your enthusiasm, and will be a summer delight, at #25.  The good nature of the rocking “All Our Love” by Boston’s Gentlemen Hall will brighten your day and bows at #26.

BILLCS Chart #378 – May 7/12

The new chart is anchored at the top once again by Toronto group River Tiber, with the rocking “Someday” at #1 for a third appearance (6 weeks) and the quiet and thoughtful “Symmetry” moving up to #2.  The band is working on their next album, and will be playing in Toronto on Saturday June 16 as a part of NXNE at C’est What restaurant and bar.  Check them out if you’re in Toronto!

Closing in at rapid speed though is “Waiting For The Feeling”, the latest single by Bright Light Bright Light, from the upcoming Make Me Believe In Hope album, due now in a month.  If the lyrics don’t strike you at the first couple of listens, they do hit home not long after.  Hence “Waiting For The Feeling” is the fastest riser on the chart, moving 14-3.  Rod Thomas (aka Bright Light x2) has already had two #1’s on my chart, “A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II”, in 2010.

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.

Moving along, Toronto’s Colin Munroe is also working on a highly anticipated album, but in the meantime “The Fight Of My Life” climbs to #5, followed behind at #6 by “Call It What You Want”, the insanely catchy song that is the true follow up to “Pumped Up Kicks” by L.A.’s Foster the People.  I’m looking to catch Ryan Star’s show in Toronto on June 5 at Lee’s Palace when he opens up for The Parlotones.  In anticipation of a follow up album to 2010’s 11:59, “Stay Awhile” rises to #9.

Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right that “Happiness” by Sam Sparro and “Could It Be Magic” by Elouise have only inched up to #11 and #12, but there’s a load of competition brewing underneath.  “Prince Of Nothing Charming” by Tyler Hilton jumps to #13 – I have my tix to his May 17 show at The Virgin Mobile Mod Club here in Toronto.  As far as I know, it’s Tyler’s first show in Toronto since 2006.  Adam Tyler’s “Music Freak” can be found mid-way at #15, followed by the soaring “Silenced By The Night” by Keane at #17 (and another Toronto concert on deck, for June 19 at Sound Academy), and the three-fold punch of “Warrior” by Mark Foster/A-Trak/Kimbra at #17.  “Only The Horses” by Scissor Sisters is turning into a current favourite with its bright melody and urgent Jake Shears vocals at #19, followed by “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes at #20 (live clip from his New Year’s show is below).

(Psssst watch Twitter and Facebook for what will be surely some online celebrations of Darren’s 40th birthday on Tuesday May 8!)

I’m hopeful for some success of the five very strong debuts which have hit the chart.

My raving about the supurb dance compilation This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One continues, as some favourites from that record have surfaced to rank alongside the six songs on the record that have already appeared on my chart during the last year.  There are so many great songs inside that I play regularly, but there are two that I’m going to more often.  The one that’s grabbed me and won’t let go is the Lindsay Lohan-inspired “Celeb” by half-Dutch, half-Japanese singer Tao Hypah, which bolts onto the chart at a stunning #14.  The bouncy and fun vibe of this song is worth your time as Tao Hypah prepares to release more new songs, including his latest “Play The Girl”, whose video will be online in a few weeks (pic from the video is above).  In the meantime, you can get “Celeb” on the Poptronik release, though it has been available as a free download on Soundcloud for quite sometime as well and you can get it right here.

Also very impressive and bowing at #27 from the Poptronik album is “How It Feels To Be A Man” by Latvian sensation Markus Riva.  Markus is a true DIY performer – already a noted singer, actor, and model in his home territory – so “How It Feels” serves as a sturdy breakout for him (he also directed the video, above).  Some genuine lyrics carried by Markus’ rich voice, which reminds me a lot of British singer Peter Murphy’s low timbre (listen to “The Sweetest Drop” for example), make the theatrical-sounding song highly recognizable.  I’d love to hear some remixes too!

Two songs immediately carry over from my last post to arrive quickly on the chart.  Jeronimo’s “One Kiss” spells Mass Appeal and has the potential for worldwide success.  It’s from Jeronimo’s upcoming album and bows at #24.  “Can’t Say No” by UK sensation Conor Maynard is a nice companion to “One Kiss” with its good-natured fun, and premieres at #28.

Lastly at #25 is a song whose intriguing video of psychological drama (ab0ve) I wrote about a few months backQuigley (aka Casey Carlson) hits the chart with “Inkblot Game”, from her brand new EP Pleiades.  Pleiades is a star cluster within Taurus, hence why lovely Quigley released the EP on her Taurian birthday!  The EP is available for free download at http://www.quigleyofficial.com and “Inkblot Game” arrives concurrently with her featured vocal on “Notice Me” by Vincent Did It (aka FrankMusik) moving up to #22.  Of course “Inkblot Game” and the two other gorgeous songs in Pleiades (which all also appear in instrumental form) are all produced by FrankMusik.  The music of Quigley and Frankmusik will not be free forever.  This is high quality craftmanship most deserving of way more than online success.  FrankMusik has also posted a few more of his demos for you to hear on his Soundcloud page.  I just can’t get enough 🙂

Final chart geek note:  You’ll notice on my chart that “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy has hit the magic mark of 11 appearances (22 weeks) on the chart.  One of my few rules is that songs drop off after a 10 appearance run, but because “Memorize Me” has had two non-consecutive runs, it continues past the 10 appearances 🙂

BILLCS Chart #377 – April 23, 2012

With Springtime just brimming with new music, this new edition of my chart was pretty decisive.

Up top for a second appearance at #1 is a song that doesn’t look like it will let go, unless it yields to another song by the same performer:  “Someday” from River Tiber’s independent album From Now On.  Another brilliant and totally different song from the album, “Symmetry”, soars 7-3.  You can get From Now On (cover below) on iTunes and find out more about River Tiber at http://www.rivertiber.com (including a free download of the EP Massachusetts).  Sandwiched in-between is Eric Saade’s long-lasting “Backseat”, while the Swede sensation’s “Fingerprints” falls to #5.  “Glad You Came” by The Wanted holds steady at #4.

The Top 10 continues to be super busy.  Toronto’s Colin Munroe has another collaboration on deck with RZA called “Invincible” which you will hear more about soon, but in the meantime his pairing with Pusha-T on “The Fight Of My Life” rises to #6.  You can get both for free with an email subscription at http://www.colinmunroe.com.  The release of the Promising Promises album is coming up within a month, and Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles’ duet of “Summer Is Over” climbs to #7.  Turns out I like The Knocks’ cover of “Midnight City” better than the M83 original.  Featuring rousing vocals by Mandy Lee, it rises to #8.  The exuberance of “Call It Want You Want” by Foster The People sends it to #9, and “Stay Awhile” by Ryan Star moves up to #10 as he is about to begin another tour on May 17.  Watch the video for “Stay Awhile” below.

Moving on, Sam Sparro’s perfectly joyful slice of retro soul “Happiness” jumps to #12, while the fastest riser on the chart is by the performer pictured at the top of this post.  Welsh singer Rod Thomas is Bright Light Bright Light, and his long-awaited album Make Me Believe In Hope is due June 4.  Rod specializes in melancholy dance-pop that always has a bright side to it.  Thus we have one of his best releases to date “Waiting For The Feeling”, moving up 23-14, with an EP of remixes on deck on April 30.  To celebrate the upcoming album release, Rod is releasing limited pink cassette bootleg versions of his album which feature some ‘special’ versions of his songs.  So to coincide with the appearance of “Disco Moment” on the stunning This Beat Is Poptronik compilation,  there is “Gypsy Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light vs. Crystal Waters!  Listen below and download for free!

Last week’s other debuts all move up four spots on the chart:  “Music Freak” by Poptronik featured performer Adam Tyler is at #20, Keane’s “Silenced By The Night” is at #21, and Scotland’s Aerials Up rises to #22 with “I Am”.  Watch for these songs to make impressive moves in the coming weeks!

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.

As I said earlier, the chart was pretty decisive, and I’ve written about all of the chart’s debuts before, the highest two just two weeks ago.  The unique blend of talents that is Mark Foster (of Foster The People) plus DJ/producer A-Trak plus Kiwi sensation Kimbra is featured on “Warrior” (#23), which is a free download courtesy of Converse and Journeys.  Independent of the raucous video, the song is extremely catchy and is definitely hit-worthy unto itself!  Then we have a song whose interest to me was reignited by its stunning video.  That’s “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes which bows at #24 as the fourth single from Secret Codes And Battleships, which contains some of Darren’s best ever vocals.  Then we have the perfect pairing of Vincent Did It, the alter-ego of Frankmusik, and Quigley, who is his gal Casey Carlson (you may have seen her on tour with him when he wasn’t singing with Colette Carr).  From Vince’s free download of The SOPA Opera EP is the beautiful “Notice Me” (#26).  Vince needs no major record label to continue creating stunning new music.  Lastly, from the much-awaited forthcoming album Magic Hour is Scissor Sisters with the Calvin Harris co-production “Only The Horses” at #27.  This instant ear-grabber should put the Sisters back on the map outside of dance clubs.  It’s a perfect pop radio confection – let’s hope it gets there.

BILLCS Top 30 #376 – April 9/12 plus Stunning New Videos from Darren Hayes and Mark Foster/Kimbra/A-Trak

The new chart has another changeover at the top and four debuts, plus I have comments on two new videos in what will likely be my only blog post till the weekend.

Being a former college radio programmer, I have always been a huge supporter of independent music.  And while independently released music has appeared in my chart over the years, it wasn’t until around 2009 when the calibre and quantity of quality independent music appeared to dominate the commercial releases through major record labels.  So more than half of my current chart currently consists of independently released songs or ones that are not yet available in North America.

Advancing to the top therefore is the independent release of “Someday” by Toronto band River Tiber.  “Someday” is a song that slowly draws you in, basking in some great guitar work, and then takes you on a little journey that keeps you hanging in till singer Tommy Paxton-Beesley’s last breath at the end.  River Tiber also has a quieter more moody song in the Top 10 at #7 with “Symmetry”.  This one relies on a vocal climax followed by relaxing jazzy instrumentation and has an incredibly dreamy feel-good vibe.  Be sure to buy River Tiber’s From Now On album on iTunes.  You can view the videos for both songs by reading my comments about From Now On right here.

All eyes are on One Direction and The Wanted right now, but the latter’s “Glad You Came” has won me over and soars to #4 on my chart.  Ya gotta admit – everyone has their favourite boy-band songs.  For me, the last one that was special was the BT-produced “Pop” by N Sync, which got to the top of my chart for a month in 2001.  In addition to “Symmetry”, song on the rise in the lower Top 10 include “Something” by JMSN at #6 (the drums/percussion arrangement alone is outstanding), “Summer Is Over” by Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles at #8, and Colin Munroe’s magnificent “The Fight Of My Life”, featuring Pusha-T at #9.  I can’t wait for more from the talented Colin, including perhaps a video for this song?  Listen below.

The rest of the chart is jam-packed with great songs, some of which by all rights should be in my Top 10 if there wasn’t so much fantastic music out right now.  As M83’s “Midnight City” slides down the chart, the unique cover by The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee is the fastest riser, climbing 19-11 and about to pass the #10 peak of the original.  Nadia Ali is one of the busiest female singers in dance music today, and she lends her many talents to Spencer & Hill’s “Believe It” which ranks #12.  Ryan Star is about to embark on another tour in support of his upcoming album, led by the single “Stay Awhile”, which climbs to #13.  

“Could It Be Magic” by Elouise revives Barry Manilow and/or Take That via Donna Summer’s rendition at #15, followed by “Happiness” by Sam Sparro (making us anxiously wait for the Return To Paradise album) at #16, Foster The People’s “Call It What You Want” at #17 (which makes a great mix with Scissor Sisters’ “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'”), Kaya & Pierre Lewis’ beauty of a ballad “When I Was Blind” at #18, “Hand Dance” by that tantalizing teasing trio Liquid Diet at #19, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming”, the understated lead single from Tyler Hilton’s top notch Forget The Storm.  I’ll have my own review of Forget The Storm soon – I didn’t realize it until reading further about it, but Tyler released Forget The Storm through his own Hooptie Music label (whose name comes from Tyler’s song “When it Comes”).

Debuting in this edition though are four songs, the first of which you can view at the top of this blog post.

Rod Thomas under his Bright Light Bright Light moniker is a performer whose releases I always listen for since I first heard “A New Word To Say” more than two years ago.  “Waiting For The Feeling” is classic Bright Light x2 as Rod always finds those moments in time in-between everything and captures them beautifully in words and music.  His Make Me Believe In Hope is now due in June and I just can’t wait to hear it in full.  “Waiting For The Feeling” debuts at #23 and will undoubtedly join his best songs near the top of my chart very soon.

Next up is “Music Freak” by Adam Tyler from his Shattered Ice album.  As “Like A Drug” departs my chart (but is still in the midst of full-on promotion thanks to its compelling video), I’m adding “Music Freak” because over the several months since the release of Shattered Ice, the lyrics of this song have become increasingly important to me as a music fan.  Being a music freak myself, I can’t let it hide in the midst of several strong songs on the album, so “Music Freak” debuts at #24.  You can listen to it right here.

I’ve already posted blogs about the next two songs, but they bear repeating!  Keane has come out of the gate blazing with “Silenced By The Night” at #25, the first gorgeous single from the upcoming Strangeland album.  Watch the video below.  And lastly, Scotland’s Aerials Up is a talent to watch for with their independent release of “I Am” at #26 – video is posted again below.

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.

Darren Hayes “Stupid Mistake”

I got up this morning to find that Darren had posted his new video for “Stupid Mistake”, which I had heard was to be the fourth single from the singer’s fourth brilliant solo album Secret Codes And Battleships.  The video is captivating in its simplicity, which shows Darren alternately in stage make up or in the process of removing it.  In relationships whether we know it or not we all put on masks, which eventually get stripped away like make up.  And if you keep the mask on too long, then you lose yourself in your daily life which becomes a performance and ultimately will hurt the ones you love.  Watch it all the way through, it’s amazing!  Those of you who have had long-term relationships end will completely relate.

Mark Foster + Kimbra + A-Trak = “Warrior”

It’s a sly bit of promotion for Chuck Taylor Converse shoes and Journeys, but what a cool way to do it!  Who’d have ever thought Foster The People’s Mark Foster, New Zealand singer Kimbra, and Canadian DJ extraordinaire A-Trak would all get together for a project, let alone film a highly entertaining video?  “Warrior” is a must-view and listen, and could be a sneaky hit in the making for the trio.  I seriously wonder how many bruises were achieved during the making of the video.  I’m not into watching wrestling but the entire concept is spot on.  Best of all, you can download “Warrior”for free from the Journeys website right here.  Kudos to whoever planned this project – more please!