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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“90 Days” by Nelson Clemente

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

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

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

Alt.Disco? Jessica 6 May Know Something About It…Plus: Armin van Buuren/Nadia Ali, Penguin Prison, Gavin Mikhail, Collin McLoughlin

Jessica 6 featuring Antony Hegarty “Prisoner of Love” (and more)

As much as I search for my own musical finds, the collective world of the BlogVerse is not only daunting for all of the knowledge that my fellow bloggers possess, but also for the numerous treasures that they find.

Courtesy of xolondon comes New York trio Jessica 6 (the name comes from the sci-fi book/film “Logan’s Run”) with their debut album See The Light, featuring singer Nomi Ruiz, keyboardist Morgan Wiley and bassist Andrew Raposo.  The group finds a happy middle ground between alternative rock and dance that doesn’t take a pure pop road, something that Nomi  knows all too well from working with the acclaimed Hercules & Love Affair.

And it reminds me specifically of the territory once covered in the late 70’s and early 80’s by the unique performers who were signed to ZE Records.  From eccentric “mutant disco” (Bill Laswell’s Material, early Was (Not Was)) to full throttle disco (Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band) and eventually to their most accessible and successful act (Kid Creole & The Coconuts), ZE Records had the underbelly between rock and dance covered.

And I’m in total agreement with xolondon, and in somewhat amazement, at Jessica 6’s best song, “Prisoner Of Love”.  Lyrically, there’s nothing new that hasn’t been said equally as well elsewhere.  But the vocals and arrangement are what make this song so special.   What starts off as slick mid-evening rhythmic pop sung by Nomi segues into an-almost duet with the influential Antony Hegarty (he of Antony & The Johnsons).  I say ‘almost’ because Antony scores the lead in the second part of the song.  The remainder is derived so much from impromptu vocal jazz collaborations, when all that’s sung is the title, and then the voices are caught up in a whirlwind of what I can only describe as disco rapture.   It’s one of the very best performances of the year.

The group shows its further 70’s and 80’s R&B and funk influences with the polished “East West Funk” (reminds me of early 80’s George Benson songs if his songs had a dash of Parliament/Funkadelic) and the enchanting sleazy pleasure of “Fun Girl” and “White Horse” (not the Laid Back hit from the 80’s – video below).

One thing’s for sure:  If they want to call it Alt.Disco, Jessica 6 has the category all to itself.  That is, until word spreads like wildfire while the band plays shows on the East coast.

Armin van Buuren featuring Nadia Ali “Feels So Good”

Dutch performer/DJ/producer van Buuren and dance doyenne Ali are a match made in heaven in “Feels So Good”.  It makes you wonder why the collaboration hadn’t happened sooner since both performers have kind of led parallel careers.  Van Buuren has made much fine dance music with an intense emotional quality about it over the last decade including such diverse hits as “Yet Another Day” (featuring Ray Wilson, 2003) and “Going Wrong” (featuring Chris Jones, 2008), both of which got to #1 on my personal chart.  Ali of course was the lead voice of the duo IIO, whose “Rapture (Tastes So Sweet)”, “At The End”, and “Smooth” all found their way into my chart’s Top 5, along with her stunning 2009 solo effort “Love Story”.  So while the angle of “Feels So Good” isn’t so fervent this time round, the sensuality and delight delivered courtesy of Ms Nadia leave their mark.

Penguin Prison “Fair Warning” (official video)

The video speaks loudly – want wait for more live shows from PP and the upcoming self-titled album!

Gavin Mikhail “The A Team”

I’ve been thoroughly impressed at the quality of singer/pianist Gavin Mikhail’s music over the past few years, and he’s still releasing amazing music independently while raising a young family.  Following his bang-on version of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” from late last year comes a cover version that’s a little bit more unexpected.  Ed Sheeran currently has a #3 hit in the UK with “The A Team”, which has struck me as an edgier side of someone like Jason Mraz.  Gavin once again makes this song his own with his precision playing and this time a softer interpretation.  He knows how to play to the song’s strong points and send it home.

Collin McLoughlin “Save The World (Tonight)”

Similarly to “The A Team”, New York singer Collin McLoughlin, whose rocking “Back To The Wall” impressed me this past Spring, has bested Swedish House Mafia themselves with his acoustic cover of their pop/dance hit “Save The World (Tonight)”.  Collin’s version simplifies the emotional content of the song by stripping away the overwrought side of the original.

A Hat-trick of Great Cover Versions

This isn’t just your usual blog for me.  People who know me know how particular I am about cover versions, particularly those that have been substantial hits.  Nonetheless, I can be persuaded with the right version 🙂 Take for example, most recently, Pet Shop Boys’ rendition of  “Viva La Vida” – but then it’s PSB style mixed with some verses from their own “Domino Dancing”.  Prior to that, you have to go back to 2006 for covers that I really liked – Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” as recorded by Chris Isaak, and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” as recorded by Meat Loaf & Marion Raven (though Celine’s was actually a cover too, just the best known version).

So here are three recent covers.  Click on the headings – the first two of which are free downloads courtesy of the artists themselves.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miike Snow – “Animal” (Christian TV 2010 Beast Mode Remix)

I’d like to bill this as Christian TV vs Miike Snow.  This is a terrific pairing 🙂 Christian has slowed down and minimalized the upbeat playfulness of “Animal” without taking the fun away.  He just keeps the fun in anticipation instead of being overt.  I’ve always found the song kind of self-celebratory in some ways – about remaining true to yourself while disguising yourself for certain situations.  A great bonus from the singer whose “When She Turns 18” still rides in the Top 10 of my chart.  Get it before it disappears!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Tyler “Torn” (acoustic)

From one of my increasingly favourite new singers comes this beautifully stripped down version of Natalie Imbruglia’s 1998 massive hit.  It’s not totally stripped, there are some subtle string arrangements to give it depth.  But kudos to Mr. Tyler’s vocal on this one, considering we have only recently known him for his dance-oriented efforts like “Friction” (which took time but won me over big time this year).  “Torn” sounds different sung by a guy and he’s given it the right emotional quality which has only been hinted at in some of the vocals in “Friction”.  Again, grab this triumph while you can!



 

 

 

 

 

 

Gavin Mikhail “Raise Your Glass”

Another song about self-celebration, US singer Gavin Mikhail has given Pink’s recent hit a bluesy piano man edge that keeps everything that you like about Pink’s version in tact (other than Pink herself).  Like fellow piano guy Clayton Senne, Gavin’s been putting out records for a few years now and has got some notoriety through working with Peter Gabriel a couple of years back.  He’s a fine vocalist and understated talent, and when you hear “Raise Your Glass” you may just do exactly that.  Cheers – and order your copy on iTunes to keep Pink’s original company.

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 12:07 am  Comments (1)  
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