My year end countdown continues with songs #40 through 21 🙂
40. DATABOY We Can’t Stop Summertime Sadness (PP #6)
Among their many projects amid preparations for their sophomore album, Austin TX duo DATABOY (aka Cameron Maxwell and Adam Bailey) dropped one of the biggest surprises of 2013 – not just a mashup of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” and “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey, but one that pretty much stands alone as a song itself. It’s a supurb end of summer song, combining the invincibility of “We Can’t Stop” and the defeat of “Summertime Sadness”. Plus, as is the theme of this year’s songs, the guys gave one of their best ever vocals, and showed themselves at last in the accompanying video. Available for free download too.
39. THE WALLFLOWERS featuring MICK JONES Reboot The Mission (PP #6)
“Reboot The Mission” served as a classy homage to The Clash, what with reference to “the mighty Joe Strummer” in the lyrics as well as supporting vocal from Clash member Mick Jones. It’s probably one of The Wallflowers’ funkiest numbers too, a real throwback to how The Clash incorporated funk and R&B into their songs like “This Is Radio Clash”, “Rock The Casbah”, and “The Magnificent Seven”. Jakob Dylan also has never sounded so fine, an enthusiastic yet sultry vocal.
38. OSVALDO SUPINO I Have A Name (PP #5)
“I Have A Name” became the standout song from the blissful dance compilation This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume 2 as the year went on. It’s as different from Italian singer Osvaldo Supino’s more outrageous songs as it is from his other charting song (the incredibly playful “Ma Radio” at #67). His vocal here is extremely touching and the beautiful lyrics – the song was written by ace team Charlie Mason, Daniel Volpe, and Thomas Lipp – to me could also serve as a theme of sorts against bullying.
37. ROBIN THICKE featuring T.I. & PHARRELL WILLIAMS Blurred Lines (PP #4)
There is no denying that “Blurred Lines” is one of the catchiest pieces of business that 2013 offered. I’m not about to debate the lyrics; to me this is all just fun and other songs have been targeted in the past for their words, yet it didn’t stop radio from playing them either. Robin Thicke is no stranger to making songs about sex, they comprise pretty much most of his repertoire (and he’s been married for over 20 years too). It’s great to have him back with some friendly rivalry, he last appeared on my Best of 2008 with “Magic” (in duet form with Mary J. Blige) after first appearing on my chart back in 2002 with his “A Fifth Of Beethoven” mashup, “When I Get You Alone” (billed under his last name only).
36. DAVIS REDFIELD A World Apart (PP #4)
Davis Redfield is a German DJ/producer who appears to be well-established in Europe. His song “A World Apart” came to my attention through its impeccable songwriting pedigree (Charlie Mason/Mans Ek/Johan Aberg and Redfield). It also has a bit of bizarre history to itself as the fantastic (and hitherto unknown) session vocalist bailed from the project after it was recorded, and that’s not her in the accompanying video. Nevertheless it’s one of the year’s very best dance recordings that should not be disregarded! 🙂
35. BONGIOVANNI I Think I Love You (Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni remix) (PP #6)
It’s Montrealer Victor Bongiovanni’s second entry (the other is much higher up!) on this list, a deep house rework of rapper Dwele’s song that emphasizes over the full song an irresistibly oversized bass sound and atmosphere featuring minimal vocals. Eventually the full lyrics come along about half way through but by then you are sold entirely. I heard no other song that was quite like this one in 2013, and look forward to Bongiovanni’s upcoming projects (usually with partner-in-crime Kwik Fiks).
34. ARMIN VAN BUUREN featuring TREVOR GUTHRIE This Is What It Feels Like (PP #6)
Dutch DJ/producer has been no stranger to my chart over the past 10 years and in fact has scored two #1’s, 2003’s “Yet Another Day” and 2008’s “Going Wrong”. This time though, “This Is What It Feels Like” crossed over to pop radio around the world thanks to inclusion of the instantly recognizable voice of former soulDecision vocalist, Canadian singer Trevor Guthrie. It’s garnered the pair a deserving Grammy nod for Best Dance Recording amid a lot of competition.
33. PARRALOX featuring RYAN ADAMES Silent Morning (PP #5)
It literally took months for me to buy into this song – a return of the Freestyle sound amid so much techno and dubstep through a cover of Noel’s seminal 80’s hit “Silent Morning”?? And the first recorded version of “Silent Morning” by the Australian duo led by John von Ahlen, simply featuring former member Amii Jackson on vocal duty, was just fine. Then came the brilliant idea of adding rising L.A.-based singer/actor/dancer Ryan Adamés to the mix, and suddenly the record was transformed into something immediately more contemporary, with a video showcasing Amii and Ryan that added a little intrigue to the story. Many mixes followed, including a rock-inflected one by Cherry Cherry Boom Boom which still turns my head. “Silent Morning” is also one of the showcase songs from This Beat Is…Poptronik Volume 2. Parralox also features at #59 with their out-of-the-blue cover of Front 242’s “Headhunter”, sung by John, from their ambitious album of cover songs, Recovery.
32. MATT BLUE Outta My Mind (PP #3)
He doesn’t do it very often, but when 21 year old Dutch singer Matt Blue releases something, it’s generally pretty ear-catching and danceable. Such is the case with “Outta My Mind”, guaranteed to make you smile and give you happy feet, in follow up to his late 2011 #1 on my chart “Can’t Help Myself”. He’s just released a new song called “Fireworks” and I’m sure I’ll have something to say about it very soon! But I’m selfishly looking forward to a full EP or album from the talented Mr. Blue.
31. LAWSON Learn To Love Again (PP #5)
UK quartet Lawson was one of my bands of the year, even though they haven’t released more than two singles in North America. I saw them twice in concert this year (along with Canadians Neverest), and they put on a stadium-worthy show for a smallish (350-400) club audience. Almost all of their songs (ironically except “Learn To Love Again”) have garnered Top 10 status in the UK, and their albums Chapman Square and Chapman Square Part II, have also sold well. North America has to be their next destination, right Universal Music?? 🙂 “Learn To Love Again” is one of those emotional pop songs that instantly sticks in your head, and it was followed this year by the rocking duet with B.o.B. “Brokenhearted” (#52) and the Bruno Mars-ish ska-inflected “Juliet” (#60).
30. TRAVIS GARLAND Homewrecker (PP #6)
L.A. based, Texas-bred singer Travis Garland ultimately recorded my favourite album of 2013, his self-titled debut. Produced along with The Stereotypes, the album offers a diverse R&B/pop sound like no other (no, not even close to Justin Timberlake or Robin Thicke). Its songs ranged from out-and-out dance, through to sexy balladeering, and then to something as offbeat as “Homewrecker”, a dark tale with production effects that would not have sounded out of place on JMSN’s 2012 album Priscilla. Nonetheless it’s a captivating song that shows Travis Garland’s versatility and deservedly ranks highly at year’s end. Travis has one more song, much higher up, on this list 🙂
29. BASTILLE Pompeii (PP #6)
After hearing “Pompeii” at the time of its UK release and seeing it soar to #2 for the British band Bastille, I was hooked thanks to its unforgettable refrain:
“And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”
These are some of the best lyrics of the year. And by year’s end, the rest of the world was catching on as “Pompeii” moved towards the Top 20 in North America.
28. BLAKE LEWIS Your Touch (PP #5)
“Your Touch” is another song with a memorable refrain, combined with an urgent performance by Blake Lewis, which was a most welcome return for the singer/songwriter whose “Heartbreak On Vinyl” was one of the more touching songs of 2009.
“I’m thinking you and I
Should roll the dice, get lost in love forever
Cause I’m feeling intoxicated
I wanna taste the air that you’ve been breathing
So haunt me, and feel me
I’ve been waiting for your touch”
We’re still waiting for the album Portrait Of A Chameleon to surface, so I’m hoping it’s not buried in record company tape. “Your Touch” became a Top 40 hit in the UK.
27. KYLIE MINOGUE Skirt (PP #4)
A gal’s just gotta have some fun, right? The Aussies got it, dance clubs got it, but very few others did. “Skirt” is one of Kylie’s more uninhibited numbers (“and then my skirt came down…. down…. down….”), and one of my most favourite, particularly after last year’s glistening “Timebomb”. And while “Skirt” may have been unjustly ignored, Warner Music decided to add her to their roster, so we should have new Kylie to look forward to in 2014.
26. CHRIS WALLACE Time Bomb (Walk Away) (PP#4)
“Time Bomb” is Chris Wallace’s 2nd entry on this list, following #44 (and current single/video “Keep Me Crazy) and of course my last year’s #2 favourite “Remember When (Push Rewind)”. “Time Bomb” is another equally thoughtful and energetic song, which, who knows (and hint, hint) could be the third single from his long-lasting Push Rewind album. Chris has been performing relentlessly across the USA this year, which has resulted in “Keep Me Crazy” receiving enough airplay to rank in the Top 40 radio songs. This is helped by the power of an indie label (Think Say) with one or two strong performers on their roster. More power to Chris and all of them for 2014! Hope Canada’s on your radar for next year!
25. TAO HYPAH Play The Girl (PP#4)
Early 2013 started off with “Play The Girl”, a most danceable and ear-catching song from young Dutch singer Tao Hypah, who graced last year’s list with the memorable “Celeb”. The video is a great piece of eye-candy with some decent choreography. Tao Hypah has the intriguing looks and the voice to match, and was willing to take a risk with a song that could be perceived from its title to be about more than what it actually is. In mid-2013, Tao Hypah auditioned for The Voice of Holland and made it through under his own persona, Darren Van Der Lek (pic below). He got to the first battle round before being eliminated. Tao Hypah/Darren definitely has the voice to be successful however he wants to be, and I look forward to more in 2014.
24. ELI ESCOBAR featuring NOMI RUIZ Somebody To Love Me (PP #4)
I fell in love with “Somebody To Love Me” at first listen, thanks to the breathtaking vocals of Nomi Ruiz from NYC trio Jessica 6, but had no idea that it was a rework/cover. The original was performed by Mark Ronson featuring Boy George and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt back in 2010 from Ronson’s album at the time. I only found this out because I was curious why Nomi was singing the song as if she was a boy and figured it must be a cover. Nonetheless, Eli Escobar fashioned the better version as a showcase for Nomi – probably one of the best dance records of the year that you didn’t hear.
23. FRANKMUSIK Captain (PP #4)
Oh what a year for FrankMusik, who has already placed three other songs (out of 5 – still one more to go!) in my Top 75. I remember him posting a clip of the instrumental track for “Captain” before it was released, and I was wondering how he could possibly write a lyric to overlay on top of such a frenetic melody. But he did, and “Captain” is one of the key songs from the Between album, it is the storm that’s raging while you are in the throes of trying to salvage a relationship. You want someone to steer it for you, but the two of you are the only ones to do that. It’s such a difficult subject, and part of the amazement of hearing the Between and Between Us projects is to live through the painful, sad lyrics with Vince, often set to unbridled and happier-sounding melodies. “Captain” is one crazy story and tune – listen to the bare-bones acoustic version on Between Us for full effect.
22. DAN BLACK featuring KELIS Hearts (PP#3)
After his smashing debut album UN from 2009, and a few guest appearances here and there since, Dan Black quietly resurfaced (after starting a family) with “Hearts” this past Spring. It was accompanied by a very creative video which used time lapse photography having been shot over 24 hours. Incorporated into the mix is an appropriately dry vocal by Kelis that acts as a perfect foil to Dan’s ideas. It’s such a shame that this was all we heard and saw in 2013 and 2014 could use more Dan Black on the music scene 🙂
21. ANTON EWALD Can’t Hold Back (PP#3)
While Sweden’s reigning king of pop, Eric Saade, delved into quieter, personal pop rather than continue with dance-oriented, synth-heavy songs, his young friend Anton Ewald surfaced at Melodifestivalen and won over Swedish audiences with his TV-ready personality and some slick dance moves (he’s also a choreographer). This led to the release of his EP called A, and every song within hits the same places that Eric found with his Saade Volumes 1 & 2 albums. “Can’t Hold Back” should have done better as a second single with its snappy melody and singalong chorus. It’s also strange how his music is released internationally yet we in North America are unable to see some of his videos. I’d love for Eric Saade and Anton Ewald to tour outside of the Nordic countries on a double bill! What exposure! 🙂