New Jams by Adam Tyler, Eli Escobar & Nomi Ruiz, and Ashton Zanecki

ADAM TYLER “Fade Into The Light”

This week sees the official release of the first new original song from L.A. based singer Adam Tyler since Summer ’11, when songs from his debut album Shattered Ice popped out in all the right places.  He steps back as far as 2010’s “Friction” to grab some darkness for both the lyrics and melody of “Fade Into The Light”, darker in a much different way than say from “Like A Drug” from Shattered Ice.  As portrayed in the video, hot off the presses today, the song broadcasts images of isolation and emotional scarring, but with the intent on letting go for something better.  Both radio edit and extended versions (available on iTunes) wrap you up in mid-tempo dance rhythms that shift into Skrillex-y dubstep territory which becomes a climactic moment in the song.  “Fade Into The Light” is a grower for sure and serves as both a welcome introduction for new fans and a change up for those of you like me who look forward to whatever Adam sings next.  I’m looking forward to seeing some producers get their hands on “Fade Into The Light” for some remixes to help it blow up in dance clubs!  Adam is great to connect with – high school students who saw him in concert recently at their schools know what I’m talking about 🙂  Join him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/adamtylerx!

ELI ESCOBAR featuring NOMI RUIZ “Somebody To Love Me”

I love dance music that wraps itself up in many styles and then…. BOOOM!  “Somebody To Love Me” benefits greatly from Jessica 6 vocalist Nomi Ruiz’s diverse and seductive voice that we fell in love with a few years back with songs like “Prisoner Of Love” from the NYC trio’s See The Light album.  Since then they’ve played worldwide in clubs, and another new record will put them on the international map.  Producer Eli Escobar’s melting pot of styles sends you swinging one way back to 70’s disco days (Cher’s “Take Me Home” comes instantly to mind and not for kitschy reasons) and then onward to the mid-90s to bask in flavour from the likes of Crystal Waters or The Bucketheads. “Disco -that’s where the happy people go, and they’re just dancing along, to the perfect song” sang The Trammps in 1975.  Songs like “Somebody To Love Me” help put you right there.

ASHTON ZANECKI “1,000 Grand”

I’m really sold on the talent of young American singer Ashton Zanecki, who has been garnering attention online since he was 14.  A few years later, and he is growing song by song.  Earlier this year, I was totally abuzz in Winter Popervescence about his gloriously fun cover of Cher Lloyd’s “Want U Back” – a song I don’t even like in its original version!  But his spontaneous performance and appealing sense of wacky humour convinced me (you can watch “Want U Back” again below, especially if you want to smile).  “1,000 Grand”, an original (available on iTunes), might try to portray him as almost a male version of Ke$ha, but our boy has other vocal and lyrical tricks up his sleeve to say yeahhh… but there’s so much more to listen to.  It’s all about bringing the entire package home and Ashton Zanecki does just that.  Given more time and guidance, he should soon have a large fan base.  So great to see our friends at EQ Music Blog managing  Ashton for this start of promising songs to come.

Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bill’s Top 75 Songs of 2011

That annual ritual is upon us again.  I kicked it off with my previous post “And Visions of 2011 Danced In His Head”, which talked about my favourite 20 performers (and one compilation album) that made 2011 glitter for me.  I won’t go into much depth about those performers again, other than those whose songs are in my Top 10.  I’ve provided links to some notable videos and/or songs in my list below (click on the relevant song titles), particularly some you may not know, as well as some comments.  You can see the web-pretty list using the Best of 2011 list in the sidebar to the right or click right here.

Before we begin, only one performer has more than 4 songs on the list, and that is Simon Curtis, who had my #1 song of 2010 “Beat Drop”.  Among 7 entries, he has three duets on the list!  Then with four songs is Frankmusik, and with three songs apiece we have Penguin Prison, Elouise, Eric Saade, Ro Danishei, and Kyle Brylin.  These are no surprises if you’ve read this blog throughout the year.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin 🙂

BILL’S TOP 75 SONGS OF 2011

75 TILL THE WORLD ENDS  Britney Spears

Unlike much of the pop world, I have never much been a fan of Ms Britney.  But this year she recorded the best song of her career thus far which kicks off my year end list.  In fact one of the very best reasons for expanding my list to 75 songs this year was to include this song.  Well done – more like this please!
74 METAPHOR  Nick Hagelin

Watch Nick’s Twitter account for word about his upcoming single “X Games”!
73 JILTED LOVERS & BROKEN HEARTS  Brandon Flowers
72 WE DON’T MISS A BEAT Van Go Lion

Portland, Oregon duo Amy Paige and Josh Hoertzel make magical melodies together, and “We Don’t Miss A Beat” is their best yet.  Watch for more in 2012.
71 ICE MELTS  Matt & Kim
70 ANOTHER DIMENSION   Bass Robbers featuring Matt Blue
69 NEVER WILL BE MINE  Rye Rye featuring Robyn
68 THE CITY (Richard X emix)  Patrick Wolf

It was so grand to hear British singer Patrick Wolf full of positive and happy energy with songs like “The City” from his recent album Lupercalia.
67 TILL IT HURTS (Radio mix) Native Underground

Native Underground and singer Javi Silva (who gave us last year’s tantalizing “Situation”) are part of a New York City new dance/disco undercurrent.  Watch for more from them in 2012, including Javi’s other project Chasing The Ghost.
66 CINEMA  Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go
65 FALLING Bright Light Bright Light

BrightLightx2 aka Rod Thomas recorded this free download and unique interpretation of the theme from TV’s “Twin Peaks”, originally sung by Julee Cruise.

64 WHITE HORSE  Jessica 6
63 MORE (Red One Jimmy Joker remix)  Usher
62 STUPID WITH YOU  Eric Saade
61 MY FIZZY POP   Kyle Brylin
60 THEN I GO TWISTING  Erasure
59 ALL YOU NEED IS NOW  Duran Duran
58 THE LOVER’S RUMBA   Elouise

The first of three contemporized ballroom songs to appear in this list from the fantastic Ballroom Remixed compilation from our favourite UK torch song chanteuse.

57 KEEP YOUR HEAD UP  Andy Grammer

One of the most upbeat and carefree songs of the year also had one of the most enjoyable (and interactive) videos!

56 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE  Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi

I must say I was totally enthralled with Chris Brown’s performance of this song on the Grammy Awards – though it was really a lot of special effects that catch your attention more so than the song, you can imagine how much work went into it.  But I was totally puzzled that his record company did not promote this song to pop radio, and instead it became a #1 Dance Club Play hit.

55 TAINTED LOVE  Elouise

Another magnificent Steve Anderson production which turns the song best known as the 80’s hit by Soft Cell into a seductive, smoky, and empowering torchy rendition.
54 ALORS ON DANSE  Stromae

53 NEVER LOVE A DJ  Kyle Brylin

52 THE EDGE OF GLORY  Lady GaGa
51 DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART  Agnes
50 SUNLIGHT Bag Raiders featuring Dan Black
49 FAMOUS Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall or Randy Raymond

Canadian dance trio Audio Playground enlisted Kardinal Offishall for this infectious dance song that perked up Canadian radio playlists this Fall.

48 LADY LUCK  Jamie Woon
47 ROCKETEER  Far East Movement featuring Ryan Tedder
46 BAD DOG  Neon Hitch
45 THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL   Elouise

From the little belter herself, a live clip of this version of the ABBA hit which shows that Elouise has the goods and you’ll hear much more from her in 2012.


44 SET FIRE TO THE RAIN  Adele
43 MOVES LIKE JAGGER  Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
42 MONSTER  Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj

I will always listen to Kanye West’s music knowing that he can come up with greatness with the help of such friends… and to me Nicki’s outstanding rap in this song is what helped get her on the map.
41 FAIR WARNING (Dirty Vegas remix) Penguin Prison
40 VENOM Long Story Short

A hooky, movie theme-inspired rock song from this duo, who are from Quebec and L.A.  Watch for more from Long Story Short in 2012.
39 THE PUPPET WHO GAVE HIMSELF STRINGS  Simon Curtis

The most adorable song from Ballroom Remixed which shows a different side of Simon.
38 PREY TO THE BEAT   Ro Danishei

Prey To The Beat is the hidden gem in Ro’s End Of The Rainbow album.  It can easily slay the dancefloor!
37 BLOCK AFTER BLOCK  Matt & Kim

Block After Block is set to one of the best videos of the year – it’s just so much fun, like the duo themselves.

36 PULL THE TRIGGER  Adam Tyler
35 MULTI-MILLIONAIRE (Shook remix)  Penguin Prison
34 TALK TALK TALK  Darren Hayes

33 FIX ME  Matthew Kurz

Fix Me is one of the most heart-wrenching ballads of the year by L.A.’s Matthew Kurz, a new singer with an amazing voice.  Download his Mixtape featuring Fix Me right here.
32  CINNAMON  Matt Webb 

Guitarist Matt Webb  initially released Cinnamon as a limited free download before appearing on his debut EP Coda and Jacket.  It’s one of those perfect summer heartbreak songs that shows another side of this Marianas Trench member.
31 EVERYTHING I’M MISSING  Kyle Brylin

As Kyle enters an acoustic phase of his career, his electropop of 2011 leaves its mark especially with this hypnotic song with a video that makes you watch, even reluctantly. And what is it about the eye makeup that helps give this song a bit of a sinister side? 😉

30 SUPERHERO  Simon Curtis

Your Superhero arrived in May to stage the arrival of R∆.

29 STUPID (Brad Walsh remix)  Databoy

It takes a few listens until you realize what a smart release this is from this Austin TX duo.  It’s still available as a free download right here.

28 I WON’T LET YOU GO   Adam Tyler

Watch the colourful video from the best song on Adam’s Shattered Ice debut release.


27 MICHELLE  Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

Watch Ro and Simon perform this blistering duet from London, the first of two videos from that show in this list!

26 BORN THIS WAY  Lady GaGa
25 I’M IN LOVE  Christian TV

The first of two pop/dance confections on this list from the Detroit performer who now goes by the moniker JMSN.  Watch for more tricks up Christian Berishaj’s sleeve in 2012.
24 PRISONER OF LOVE  Jessica 6 featuring Antony Hegarty

Prisoner of Love is just one of those to-die-for duets that happen once in a while.  Hopefully this will be the first of many Nomi Ruiz/Antony Hegarty pairings!


23 BLOODSTAINED HEART  Darren Hayes

There are few performers who can convey heartbreak so conscientiously as Darren Hayes.  The best song on his Secret Codes & Battleships album is also one of his finest vocal performances.  Watch the video all the way through.

22 PUMPED UP KICKS (Skeet Skeet Show remix)  Foster The People

It’s very clear from their sold out concerts and their praised performances (even on TV’s Saturday Night Live) that Foster The People is not a one-hit pony.  Despite the strange subject matter, the song became one of the defining hits of the summer, but my preference is for the frenetic Skeet Skeet Show remix.
21 JACKSONVILLE  Brandon Flowers

Held over from 2010, Jacksonville is one of the songs on the deluxe version of Flamingo, an album that could have fared very differently if the excellent deluxe tracks had been the the core of the record.  Nonetheless, this is Brandon at his most unique – Jacksonville could have also been kicked up a notch with some dance remixes.
20 DISCO MOMENT Bright Light Bright Light

One of Rod Thomas’ very best songs contains several lyrics that can leave you teary-eyed while you dance:  “And I am open, I am open, but I might just close if… /You make it so hard to be around”.  The outstanding video will twist your emotions on the spot.


19 OUT WITHOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND  Jerry Reid featuring Ben Waters

The best song from the Ballroom Remixed compilation is this contemporary jive number, aided immeasurably by the magic fingers of Ben Waters.  Jerry Reid, too, is a new bad boy talent to watch in 2012.
18 TALK TO ME  Andrea Lewis featuring Simon Curtis

Toronto’s Andrea Lewis has another hold over from 2010 release 54321, with her 60’s retro sounding duet with Simon Curtis.  Watch the exclusive performance by these best friends from London below.


17 HURT YOU AGAIN Frankmusik

Pre-dating the Do It In The AM album by several months, it’s one of the rare tender ballads you will hear from Frankmusik, originally available as a free download.
16 SOMEONE LIKE YOU Adele
15 S&M Rihanna

Rihanna was a non-stop music-making machine in 2011, but S&M to me exceeded all expectations and made the music that followed pale in comparison.  She was at the top of her game but is now probably due a break for fear of that other industry-eating event, over-exposure.  The song also accompanied an interesting cadre of songs with suggestive topic matter, which all ended up in Billboard’s Top 4 on the Hot 100 earlier in year – the others were “Born This Way” by Lady GaGa, “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink, and “Tonight (I’m Fuckin’ You)” by Enrique Iglesias 🙂

14 DO IT IN THE A.M.  Frankmusik F/ Far East Movement

13 CAN’T HELP MYSELF (KEEP DANCING)  Matt Blue

One of 2011’s must-talents to watch is 19 year old Matt Blue, who hails from the Netherlands.  Songs like “Can’t Help Myself” transcend the record industry barriers for official release through their videos.


12 LOVE 2 BABY Christian TV

If there was any song that should’ve been a hit in 2011 it was “Love 2 Baby”, dance pop at its best and somewhat hedonistic video to boot.  Watch for the artist now known as JMSN in 2012.


11 NO I.D. Frankmusik featuring Colette Carr

One of the most joyous treats of 2011 was watching this completely unexpected video throwback to “Grease”.  Frank and Colette have great chemistry together – hopefully they’ll record again.


10 MADE OF POP  Eric Saade

It was never released as a single *hrumpf* but this love letter to Eric’s fans has some of the best lyrics that pop music could offer in 2011:  “My kings and queens /Are speaking through me / Got my degree / In the big P-O-P”.

9 ROLLING IN THE DEEP  Adele

Rolling In The Deep is the song that defines 2011 in pop culture.  It endured the entire year, became a massive hit beyond expectations, was covered – sometimes magnificently – a gazillion times.  More than any other song in the 21 album, it showcases the many broad talents of Adele.  Now let’s hope her voice recovers and we hear more magnificence in the next few years.


8 NIGHT AIR  Jamie Woon

One of the most mysterious and oddly appealing songs by this new English singer with deep down embedded talents.  While the video surely must have had “Twilight” as a source, its quiet is incredibly elegant.


7 THE FEAR INSIDE  Frankmusik

The best song from Do It In The AM was Frank’s first single from the album, released about a year ago.  Just release yourself to this one.

6 GOLDEN TRAIN Penguin Prison

Penguin Prison held court on my chart at the top of the year for two months with this song, which was made even better when Chris Glover paired it in a stunning mashup with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day And Night”, which you can hear and download in the link in song title.

5 LASER GUNS UP  Simon Curtis

It lasted from the first time I heard it in a live clip from a January show throughout the year.  Laser Guns Up is still my anthem for 2011.  And I still want some LEGO laser guns.  “This one’s for the people who’ve been told they’re never good enough / The little girls and boys who dream of what they wanna be / The little girls and boys who grow up into you and me”.
4 JUST ONCE Databoy

I had just heard “Stupid” and had not yet charted it before I was introduced to Databoy at the Superfraiche showcase in New York City in April.  And that’s where I heard this song.  Instantly, it became my song for the upcoming summer, and when it arrived as a free download there was no other competition.  I can’t wait for more Databoy music in 2012.

3 WICKED BABY Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

We had to wait till late Summer for this bonus track from the deluxe edition of Ro Danishei’s End of the Rainbow, but the best was saved for last.  This is the child of Ace of Base’s The Sign that you’ve all been waiting for, with a stunning dubsteppy breakdown amid another smoking Ro/Simon duet.  And I wasn’t the only one who loved it, check out My Fizzy Pop’s thoughts on the song too!

2 FLESH  Simon Curtis

There was no song more unique in 2011 than this second single from Simon’s R∆ album.  Totally different from even the songs within R∆, it’s a tour-de-force of sensual imagery carried by fierce production that will simply throttle you.  I still want to see it featured in a segment on TV’s “The Vampire Diaries”:  “You put your hand upon my neck and feel the pulse beat-beat-beat-beat /It’s like a trigger getting ready to shoot” and “Hold me up against the wall / Give it till I beg, give me some more /Make me bleed, I like it raw / Like it R∆ R∆ R∆”.
1 POPULAR  Eric Saade

“Popular” is the best and most captivating song of 2011 to me, which threw Swedish singer Eric Saade even more into the spotlight when the song won the Melodifestivalen contest and came third in Eurovision.  It signalled things to come, with Saade’s Volume One and Volume Two albums dropping before year’s end and giving us the year’s most  lighthearted, feel good, crunchy electropop, which hopefully will find its way around the world in 2012.  Eric Saade and his team have created the template, the rest of the world needs to catch on.  And if you’re a male pop singer, all eyes should be on Eric!  Watch the star-making performance from Melodiefestivalen again below.


Tuned-On! Top 30 #368 – December 19/11… plus Frankmusik, Adam Lambert, Lana Del Rey and more

Well if you’ve been reading this space these past several weeks, then it’s no surprise that Eric Saade & Dev have dethroned Matt Blue’s “Can’t Help Myself” at the top of my personal chart in this edition.  “Hotter Than Fire” is a highly appropriate 2011 finale for this chart, since my next one won’t be posted till January 2 or thereabouts.  It looks to have a nice long stay at the top, unless either a long-awaited release of another song I love happens, or unless another Eric Saade song catches hold of me like “Hotter” and sails to the top.  Watch the spiffy video above; the camera takes great advantage of Eric…

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.

This won’t be a long blog because the rest of the top stays the same, and while both New Yawkers Penguin Prison’s “Don’t Fuck With My Money” and Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” (in a Penguin Prison remix no less) are on their way to the Top 5, both “Then I Go Twisting” by Erasure and “White Horse” by Jessica 6 sneak into the Top 10 for what look like peak appearances.  In the meanwhile, take a gander at the provocative video by Lana Del Rey, “Born To Die”, which is one of the best you will see these days, tragic story and all.  Her voice almost has a Rufus Wainwright-like quality to it at times in this song.

Just outside of the Top 10 is another story entirely, for four songs look to storm the Top 10 in two weeks.  Keep your eyes on Boy Banned, for “The Stars Are Saying Yes” will getcha when you’re not looking!  It climbs 20-11 this week.  Right behind is the second entry for Darren Hayes currently on the chart, “Black Out The Sun”.  The Fastest Riser on the chart follows, and that’s “Make You Mine”, the big surprise that is within Joe Jonas’ Fastlife album.  It soars 24-13.  Jon McLaughlin’s “Promising Promises” continues to climb at #14.  Rounding out the movers are The Midway State’s “Fire!” at #18, Lady GaGa’s “Marry The Night” which is up to #21, and “Like A Drug” by Adam Tyler jumps 28-24.

I talked about two of the three debuts recently.  “Home” by Stone Walters is a stunning but low-key release from the UK soul singer which hits your heart in all of the right places.  It’s one to watch and debuts at #20.  It’s available for free download right here with an email subscription.  “Champagne” by Nelson Clemente is either a great way to end the current year or a great starter for the next year.  Its lightheartedness is contagious and premieres at #27.  Nelson has already attained a number of Top Tenners on this chart, with “You Want Me Don’t You” (in both its original 2008 release and 2009 Spekr Freks remix) and “90 Days” both cracking the Top 5.  Ninthwave Records has made it available as a free download on Soundcloud right here.  Lastly, producer/remixer Benny Benassi has made some intoxicating music for the dance floor this year, so he gets a hat-trick of sorts with his remix of Labrinth & Tinie Tempah’s “Earthquake” arriving on my chart at #23.  The other two songs to reach the chart?  Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People” and Benassi’s “Cinema” (featuring Gary Go) were on the chart concurrently this summer, peaking at #10 and #11 respectively.  Listen to his remix of “Earthquake” below.  Your body may start moving without you.

A few more tidbits before I wrap up…

Ever the busy guy, Frankmusik recently unveiled a delightful animated video for his Do It In The A.M. track “Wrecking Ball”.  Mr. Frank’s full of ideas… watch for more next year.  In the meantime, watch “Wrecking Ball” below.

And welcome back, Adam Lambert, though you didn’t seem away for more than a hot second.  The most important thing about his upcoming single “Better Than I Know Myself” is that it does away with the dramatic, almost over-the-top high notes of songs like “Whataya Want From Me” in favour of cleaner, richer, and more classic production.  But everything you ever liked about Adam is much intact!  The new album’s gonna be even better, I think.  Listen to “Better Than I Know Myself” streaming from his official website right here.

And I leave you with two more songs for the season.  He was Warbler #6 on “Glee” for a time, and recorded a terrific EP about a year ago along with a bang-on cover of George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex”.  It’s a pleasure to hear Chris Mann so beautifully sing “Silent Night” below.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, I said it was coming.  Here’s Joshua Desjardins’ heartwarming and humourous video for “Macauley Culkin (Home Alone at Christmas)”.  You will have a smile on your face when it’s finished 🙂

And Visions Of 2011 Danced In His Head…

2011 is a special year in many ways for me.  Utterly fantastic music was to be heard at every turn, whether it be a Facebook or Twitter link, a video, a concert… we were just a few clicks away from something amazing.  I’ve met and made contact with some of the genuinely nicest people who are either performers, writers, songwriters, producers … and are always music fans.   For someone like me who has sometimes odd music tastes and often wants to stand up on my seat and root for the underdog, it’s reassuring to know that there are so many of us out there in the world.

In anticipation of my year end Best Songs list – which will be a Top 75 Songs for the first time since around 1992 – I’m going to rave on about 20  performers (and one compilation project) who made 2011 a watershed year, particularly for pop music online (he says after listening to the radio and finding so little of interest on it).  So this post is a little longer than usual… they are in no particular order, except for the last five 🙂

The Script

The Irish trio toured around the world and then seemed to do it again, sideways, finally landing a show in my city.  Their Science And Faith album proved to be a consistent soft rock entry, spawning long-lasting hits like “For The First Time” and “Nothing”.  It’s a record that you can put on at any time and know that you will get something different back in each play every time.  The band in concert has an earnest, contagious energy which will serve them well in their rock career.

Jamie Woon

If I hadn’t heard the magical and eerie “Night Air”, well represented by a beautifully-shot video, Jamie Woon’s Mirrorwriting would not have been one of my most played albums of the first quarter of the year.  Englander Jamie has one of those deep musical souls, highly evident in gripping R&B/Blues-influenced songs like “Tmrw”, “Street”, “Waterfront” and “Shoulda”.  I can’t wait to see where his next album will take him, and us.

The Midway State

The Toronto-based quartet had me a bit puzzled with their sophomore release Paris Or India, but it’s really an album that grows on you with time.  First you must get over the hurdle that it’s quite different, and much more produced, than their 2008 debut Holes.  But the songs do resonate, particularly “Fire!”, “All Anew”, “Hartley Salter’s Kite”, and “St. Paul And The Wolf”.  The band proved how much they’ve grown touring back and forth across Canada and are now a formidably tight unit in concert.  Keep them on your radar!

Jon McLaughlin

What’s one to do after leaving your major record label of 6 years?  Why, you tour the hell out of North America in support of the album that you couldn’t agree upon, that’s what!  So Indiana’s Jon McLaughlin released Forever If Ever on his own, as if to reacquaint us with an increasingly lost image – the singer/songwriter/piano man.  I mean, a full blown piano solo in the album’s best song, “Promising Promises”, really?  The record is mainly soft rock, but also rocks out on “What I Want” and “These Crazy Times”.  And Jon proved himself to be a compelling presence in concert, prepared to bang out that keyboard until it falls apart.

Adam Cohen

I was fortunate enough to win last minute tickets to see Adam Cohen’s show in Toronto in October.  And I was treated to a low key, enthusiastic small event to showcase his first English solo album, Like A Man, since 1998, after recording one in French in 2004 and of course having some success with his rock band Low Millions.  So Adam has now embraced some of father Leonard’s style and grace on the album.  But these are Adam’s songs which tell interesting tales of love, lust, and beauty, as well as a coming of age of sorts.  At 39, Adam has decided to continue with a pop music career after nearly talking himself out of it.  And so out of that we have Like A Man, one of the best albums of 2011.

Jessica 6

This New York City trio is among a select few who seem to be reinventing the late night dance music of their city.  There’s no better example than their See The Light album, full of dark and sensual rhythms carried by the sultry-plus voice of Nomi Ruiz.  “Fun Girl”, “White Horse” and especially the knockout duet with Antony Hegarty on “Prisoner Of Love” will serve as benchmarks in this sub-genre which will continue to grow.

Ballroom Remixed

It almost seems like a no-brainer.  But with the success of contemporary dance in our pop culture spectrum now, thanks in large part to TV’s So You Think You Can Dance, no one had thought about putting a contemporary spin on traditional ballroom dances until now.  Dance choreographer extraordinaire Melanie La Patin executive-produced this fun and diverse compilation, with all songs written and produced by one group of incredible individuals, so it comes off as a dedicated and attractive affair to suit your every dance mood.  And the performers who participated?  A who’s who of Internet pop from across the globe – Simon Curtis, Kyle Brylin, Gravitonas, Elouise, Lee Latchford Evans, Romy Low, Neo, plus stunning newcomers like Jerry Reid, Joshua Desjardins, and Jeronimo.  Putting together such a compilation in these times must have taken massive effort but the results are exceptional, so check it out if you haven’t.

Bright Light Bright Light

Rod Thomas creates sad and romantic electropop with a big heart.  And while we haven’t yet seen a full album release, this London-based Welsh singer/producer/DJ continued to dazzle us in 2011 with the heartbreak of “Disco Moment”, “How To Make A Heart”, and a unique interpretation of the “Twin Peaks” theme (originally sung by Julee Cruise) “Falling”.  And then there are his numerous dance mixes, often courtesy of his nightclubbing event “Another Night”.  Bright Light Bright Light is on my must-listen list.

Adam Tyler,  Kyle Brylin, and Nick Hagelin

All of these fine young men didn’t strike me with their first few songs.  But 2011 has shown that all are coming into their own, with endless possibilities ahead.  All are very prolific, whether engaging us with their own originals/collaborations, or with well-chosen cover versions.

Adam released his debut album Shattered Ice, toured most of the U.S., and also visited England, Sweden and Japan.  The well-received electronic album included pre-released single “I Won’t Let You Go”, plus club bangers such as “Like A Drug”, “Pull The Trigger”, and the anthemic “Music Freak”, but also showed Adam’s softer side as well, which truly highlights his voice, very apparent in his non-album free download covers of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” or Adele’s “Turning Tables”.

It seemed that every month saw a new Kyle Brylin release.  And I’d be the first to back off a bunch of songs that sound like they were being thrown against a wall to see what stuck.  But there is enormous quality to multi-instrumentalist Kyle’s versatile performances,  most of which were available as free downloads.  The year started with the interesting “Committed”, and quickly got turned upside its head with a visceral version of Rihanna’s “S&M”.  “Everything I’m Missing” was hypnotic, his best song yet.  He gave us a tongue-in-cheek side with “I’m A Man (Not A Piece of Meat)” from the Ballroom Remixed compilation.  More aggressive electronica followed in the form of songs like “Make It So” and “Never Love A DJ”, countered by sweet pop like “Bay” and the joyful “My Fizzy Pop”.  The year wrapped up with precursors to an album with the many remixes of “Revenge” along with the The System EP.  OK I’m officially out of breath.

For the first while, all I could associate singer/songwriter/guitarist Nick Hagelin with were dancing pandas (from his video of “ICU”).  So when the acoustic cover versions of “The Story Of Us”, “Sometimes I Cry”, and “Marry You” all surfaced, along with a beaut of an R&B/Pop EP called Take Off, then I knew Nick would be here to stay, with much to look forward to next year.  Take Off is available for free download and features the sultry “Metaphor” and wistful title track.

Erasure

September brought me back to an always pleasant experience – my fifth Erasure concert (I saw them first back in 1986!) – but this year’s event focused on both their greatest hits and music from their album Tomorrow’s World, produced by their opening act, Frankmusik.  The album itself stands as unique among all of the Erasure albums because it updated the duo’s sound, which attracted many new listeners, more than evident in the audience at the concert.  And the concert showed that Andy Bell and Vince Clarke are still very fine performers indeed – and just count all of those hits they played.

Ro Danishei

The L.A. based singer/songwriter released the first album of 2011 online for free, and in a year of such high profile women singers, Ro Danishei held her own with End Of The Rainbow.  It’s a collection of songs that would best resemble what a de-layered Kesha might sound like, but with much more focus on deeper lyrical content and solid production (courtesy of Jeff “Jadion” Wells) than image or novelty.  Her duets with Simon Curtis on the blistering “Michelle” and the child of Ace Of Base that is “Wicked Baby”, as well as solo efforts like “Baby Doll”, “Drunk Txt”, and “Blackout” put Ro Danishei on her own platform, waiting to be heard more in 2012.

Lady GaGa

Despite naysayers, Born This Way as an album (but more particularly as a song) is a triumph.  Every generation has its excesses, whether they be by Elton John, David Bowie, or Madonna.  Lady GaGa has her own invention of excess, but with all of her talent, and her ability to get right down to a fan’s level, she still comes across as a multi-layered and unique person.  And there’s no denying the variety in Born This Way, from the humorous “Government Hooker” and “Scheiɮe”, through to the more dramatic “Marry The Night” and “Judas”, and the anthemic “Hair” and “The Edge Of Glory”.

Adele

21 is the most stunningly beautiful best-selling album of many recent years.  Who would have thought a year ago that the New Artist Grammy winner from 2009 had created a record with songs that will serve as bellwether performances for years to come.  The honest emotion in “Rolling In The Deep”, “Someone Like You”, and “Set Fire To The Rain” transcended the year, and will continue into 2012.  21 is certainly a dream come true, a vocal tour-de-force with stunning arrangements.

Darren Hayes

Secret Codes and Battleships is Darren’s first album since the magnificence that is 2007’s This Delicate Thing We’ve Made.  It’s a softer and very personal affair, full of emotion and positive energy.  “Talk Talk Talk” was the danceable introduction to the album, followed by the intense “Bloodstained Heart” and feverish “Black Out The Sun”.  There’s no shortage of fine songs, with “Don’t Give Up” and “Roses” continuing to show the quality and beauty that Darren and his team put into their music.  What’s best though about this record – Darren’s finest vocals throughout.  Can’t wait for the North American concert dates.

Here now are the five quintessential performers in 2011 who require your attention in 2012 and beyond!

Elouise

England’s “Little Belter” certainly captured my attention last year with her knockout Stardust EP, which showcased her powerful voice on “Pretender”.  This year we saw Elouise take up a residency at Madame JoJo’s in London for several sequined-dress laden Little Belter shows, including “Santa’s Little Belter” at year’s end, which promoted her same-name EP of a trio of Christmas songs, including the lost disco gem “Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man This Christmas)”.  She also released another three song EP Stardust Melodies (as with the others, lovingly produced by Steve Anderson), featuring a warm and spot-on cover of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All”.  Plus she dared to cover “Born This Way” while Lady GaGa’s Grammy performance was still fresh in our minds (releasing it as a free download), as well as a sexy and sultry version of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”.  Then we found her contemporized on the Ballroom Remixed compilation with “The Lover’s Rumba”.  It was a great year for Elouise, and it will only get better from here.  A tour of England first; the rest of the world awaits!

Penguin Prison

Chris Glover and his band were everywhere in 2011.  The year started off with the single “Golden Train”, which Penguin Prison then mashed up with Michael Jackson’s “Workin’ Day and Night”.  Then came the Prince-worthy “Multi-Millionaire” and an older single “Fair Warning”, in numerous different remixes.  Chris also entertained us with various remixes and mixtapes throughout the year, until the self-titled Penguin Prison album dropped, first in England, and then in North America in October.  The album was more than worth the wait, with the crunchy and ribald “Don’t Fuck With My Money” scoring the lead-off track role.  But there’s more to Penguin Prison than making an outstanding fusion of dance past and present, as “Desert Cold” and “In The Way” will inform you upon listening.  Despite their relentless touring throughout 2011, I hope to see a Penguin Prison show again in 2012.

Simon Curtis

Our Boy Robot from last year’s 8bit Heart free download release threw his hat into the official release game with R∆ pretty much taking over my Twitter timeline for the month of June.  He also performed a few shows throughout the year, including the Superfraiche showcase in New York City which I saw in April.  R∆ is a hard-hitting and emotionally heart-felt triumph which is not always an easy listen.  In fact it’s better to be broken up into several parts.  

The song that stands apart from the rest in R∆ is second single “Flesh”, Simon’s most unique offering to date that wraps you up and doesn’t let you go, with its impressive vocals, all of its sexy and sensual imagery, and whirlwind production from Jeff “Jadion” Wells.  Then we have the anthems – first single “Superhero”, concert fave “Laser Guns Up”, love letter to the fans “Get In Line”.  Then smouldering dance/pop courtesy of “Soul 4 Sale”, “Don’t Dance”, and “Enemy”.  Lastly, the intensely raw songs like “How To Start A War”, “I Hate U”, “Pit of Vipers”, and “Joshua” – I for one would not want to be the subject of any of these songs for fear of having to crawl under a rock somewhere.  

Despite its flaws, R∆ proves that Simon Curtis can take his music to the next level and beyond… I’m gonna have to be extremely patient waiting to see what’s in store next.

Frankmusik

Frankmusik left me breathless in 2011 after what seemed to be a simple start with the release of the infectious “The Fear Inside” at the top of the year.  But then the rollercoaster effect started, with the online free release of fine songs that didn’t end up on his September album release Do It In The A.M.  One of those songs is “Hurt You Again”, one of my favourite ballads of the year with a tender vocal which we hadn’t yet heard from talented Vince Turner.  

In the midst of it all, Frankmusik produced Erasure’s album Tomorrow’s World, from which he also gave us a raw cover of the band’s single “When I Start (To Break It All Down)”, and then opened up for them on their North America and England tours.  And in the midst of all that, songs from Do It In The A.M. were leaked months in advance of the album’s release, prompting Frankmusik to release several more songs for free download, including a song about London’s summer riots “Living In The Mayhem”.  

But back to the album – flat out and edgy dance pop, featuring collaborations with Far East Movement, Natalia Kills, and Colette Carr, all Cherrytree labelmates.  The music from the record shaped my playlists for late Summer and Fall, with the swinging title track, the jaunty “No I.D.” (with a fantastic “Grease” inspired video), and dance floor fillers like “Wrecking Ball”, “Ludicrous”, “We Collide”, and “Struck By Lightning”.  

Frankmusik now occasionally broadcasts on uStream from his studio and says he’ll be releasing his next album for free online.  But I’m sure this busy fellow will have more up his sleeve and should not be underestimated in this strange world of pop music.

Eric Saade

I’m so glad I keep an open mind about music or else I may not have returned to listen to Eric Saade’s records this year.  His previous releases, huge hits in the Scandinavian countries, didn’t connect with me.  

And then this year’s Melodifestivalen contest happened in Sweden, with Eric’s “Popular” one of the contenders.  Like with Mans Zelmerlow in 2009, the show extracted a stunning live performance  by Eric.  I was converted and  “Popular” is the defining song for me of 2011, followed in the summer by a full album, Saade Volume One.  This isn’t just Swedish electropop, it sets the standard for the way contemporary electropop should be.  Eric and his fine team of songwriters and producers covered the entire pop spectrum, from the caring and personal “Me and My Radio”, “Stupid with You” and “Timeless”, through to his own anthem for his fans “Made of Pop”, and the brilliantly bizarre “Killed By A Cop”.  

In November, Volume One was followed fearlessly by Volume Two, an even harder hitting, forceful collection of grittier arpeggio-laden electropop, led by a stunning first single featuring Dev, “Hotter Than Fire”.  But there are comparable songs within such as “Fingerprints”, “Love Is Calling”, “Explosive Love”, and “Crashed On The Dancefloor”.  Put Eric on a double bill tour with Swedish legend Robyn in 2012 along with a few other noteable performers and we will have Electropop Heaven.  

Not only does Eric Saade create electropop done so right that makes you feel so good, but he leads the way in which a male performer can rightly find his place in such a female performer-driven business these days.  If there’s any guy who should break into the worldwide pop marketplace in the next few years, it’s Eric Saade.  With Volumes One and Two, he’s created the template.  So other male pop performers, your challenge is here:  The Glove Is Now On.

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.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #366 – November 21/11, plus new Elouise and Boy Banned

Only two more personal charts to go in 2011, and my year end list is in the works.  Years ago this list was of 100 songs, then it got whittled to 75, then to 40, and then back up to 50.  There has been so much great music this year – and so many songs that didn’t end up on my chart – that I may increase the list again.  We’ll see, gotta save some surprises for you!

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.

So the top of the chart remains static, but that’s not a bad thing by any stretch.  Frankmusik and Colette Carr get another chart at the top with one of the glorious songs of 2011, “No I.D.”.  I’m still waiting for that release of “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy to happen… all good things in time… meanwhile the song holds at #3.  Trust me it will be MASSIVE, and  you can listen to it right here.  “Bloodstained Heart” by Darren Hayes anchors Secret Codes And Battleships at #4, while “Pull The Trigger” by Adam Tyler becomes the singer’s third Top 5 entry on my chart.  

While this song is in full electronica mode, Adam occasionally dips into more minimalist settings from time to time, and – hot off the presses – posted an extremely well done acoustic version of “Turning Tables” by Adele today that truly shows off his voice.  You remember his cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” from a while back?  “Turning Tables” matches it.  Listen right here and watch for a video of it soon.

The rest of the Top 10 continues to be busy as “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)” by The Netherlands’ Matt Blue should find its way into the Top 5 in two weeks.  It’s followed directly by Audio Playground’s Canada-wide hit “Famous” at #7, the party-itis of “Block After Block” by Matt & Kim at #8 (note that these Brooklyn faves are playing New York City for New Year’s Eve), and the powerful Eurodance of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Agnes at #9.

There’s plenty of competition for Top 10 entries next time with indie guys Kyle Brylin and Nick Hagelin sitting at #11 and 12, while rising starlet (and somewhat of a Stevie Nicks soundalike in spots, doncha think?) Lana Del Rey climbs to #13 with “Blue Jeans”.  Kyle’s new and humorous video for “That Bad” is video #1 at the bottom of this paragraph.  Adam Cohen’s “What Other Guy” moves to #14 as he winds down a tour of Europe, Israel, and the UK, and his new video for “Like A Man” (a simple but powerful idea full of great faces too) is video #2 below this paragraph.  Penguin Prison is the Fastest Riser with “Don’t Fuck With My Money” soaring 22-15.  Make of it what you will, but the official video for “Money” is set smack in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations – watch it as video #3 below this paragraph.  Also continuing their rise are the highly danceable “White Horse” by Jessica 6 at #16, and “Then I Go Twisting” by Erasure at #17.

Ahead of the debuts, we find the remainder of last week’s newbies off to a good start.  Fastlife by Joe Jonas is a great album to crank up in your car on a sunny day with its brushes with electropop.  But “Just In Love”, a soulful ballad, is a dazzling alternative that rises to #20.  Jon McLaughlin’s “Promising Promises” is the song to hear on his Forever If Ever release, and it’s up to #21.  Then Darren Hayes’ sad but compelling “Black Out The Sun” moves up to #22, and Jeronimo’s winning “Somebody Who Loves Me”, a Top 40 hit in the Netherlands, jumps to #25.

The three debuts are no surprise, as I’ve written about all of them.  The album I’m currently waiting for, at least for another 9 days or so, is Saade Volume Two by Eric Saade.  His duet with Dev on “Hotter Than Fire” simply sizzles as it lands at #23 for a starting point.  Mika is currently wrapping up recording for his upcoming album The Origin Of Love, and he threw a free concert in L.A. to conclude his time there.  I blogged about his French song “Elle me dit” back in June, but better late than never, this French singalong with a fantastic video (below – only the French could make this one, with a great set of character actors) is at #24.  Then at #26 is Toronto quartet The Midway State, who are touring the heck out of their second album Paris Or India and the second single from it “Fire!”.  I’m hoping to catch them in Toronto in December for a show (I saw them last in 2009) as I have not been able to catch the band while they’ve been in town.  The video for “Fire!” (also below) is a terrific showcase for a concert performance by the band.

I’ll finish up with two more new songs.  UK chanteuse Elouise has transformed her “Little Belter” shows in London into something festive for the season called “Santa’s Little Belter”.  She’s released a new EP of the same name, available on iTunes, and I hope to show off the other songs to you over the next while.  For now, here’s a taste of her warmly gorgeous redux of Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” to get you in the Christmas spirit.

And don’t say you weren’t warned, if you are suddenly charmed, boy-band style, or rather Boy Banned-style.  The quartet has been acquiring quite a following in the UK, and if there’s a song to seal the deal on drawing in more fans it’s “The Stars Are Saying Yes”.  This is when you kind of wish that North American radio wasn’t so limited and would just get back to playing good ol’ songs like this.  Even better: The iTunes single features an acapella version!  Enjoy 🙂

Autumn Video Popervescence (plus)

Every now and then, some creative, innovative thinking gives me hope that the art of the music video will continue on for a little while longer before it becomes less relevant as a marketing tool.  After all, it’s just a commercial for the song.  But it’s when the video introduces you to a song in some completely out-of-the-box way that it suddenly becomes about the video rather than the song.

There was no better example of this in the 80’s than with pop superstars Duran Duran.  The quintet made some of the finest and most indulgent pop videos ever, and even if you didn’t like the songs the videos made you watch.

So 25 years after their peak period, and after the well received launch of their album All You Need Is Now earlier this year (and the catchy title song) comes “Girl Panic”.  The video is a short ‘mockumentary’ that just embraces and gives tribute to the band’s heyday.  For in reality, the video and its story are really about absolutely nothing… no more than the many visuals of female models which basically leave off where we left Duran Duran after say Big Thing in 1988.

So I’m not going to give away the story, if you haven’t already heard about it.  Let’s just say that the video focuses on this band that consists of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, and Eva Herzigova, with a dash of Yasmin Le Bon… directed by the celebrated Jonas Akerlund to boot.  It’s one of the most humorous and very best videos of recent years.  Oh, and it made me listen to the song again too after not hearing it for a few months.

And continuing in an 80’s state of mind, we arrive at the video for California-born singer/guitarist Kina Grannis who is getting all kinds of deserved attention with “In Your Arms”.  The song may seem kind of slight but its carefree feel and emotion is brought out beautifully by this glorious video in which someone came up with fantastic things to do with 288,000 jelly beans!  It’s almost way too cool for 2011, channeling the claymation triumphs of videos like Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” with a lot of incredible effort – I’m thinking just the patience alone – that will allow the video to continue to reap awards.  Kina is currently touring in the UK and Europe.  Methinks she will come back to North America with a lot of great things waiting for her 🙂

Another video with a great sense of humour is Foster The People’s “Call It What You Want”.  A lot of people love this California trio so I’m not sure why others are thinking that they’re done as a one hit wonder after incredible success internationally with “Pumped Up Kicks”.  Not so, if this video (and their sold out shows) is any indication.  So this is what happens in the private mansion of a young band.  There’s some cute stop animation and some quirky imagery that seems like it is parodying numerous videos in the mid-80’s heyday.  “Call It What You Want” has an anthemic, clubby sound that will keep you grooving too.

Another talented trio is New York dance group Jessica 6, led by the stunning Nomi Ruiz.  While the video for “Prisoner Of Love” (a huge recent favourite of mine) is a fine showcase for the band and in particular Nomi, duet partner Antony Hegarty almost steals it away with his powerful voice and laid back style, with an outtake at the end that will make you smile even if it has nothing to do with the song.  The late, late night disco sound of NYC will get its day and Jessica 6 will be leading the way.

Mr. Soulful himself, Nick Hagelin, is back, with another mainly acoustic video to put you in a better mood.  This time he’s taking on “Stereo Hearts”, a current hit by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine.  Nick handles both Adam’s mellow tones and Gym Class Heroes’ rapping just fine, all the while trying hard not to let the extras steal the spotlight away… oh wait, maybe that was the idea.  Keep ’em coming, Nick.

One of my very favourite songs ever is Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, and considering I recently wrote about Chris’ new album Beyond The Sun, I decided to take a look at Il Divo’s interpretation of “Game”.  While it’s not in a style I always appreciate, you can’t help but be moved by the voices in the quartet’s new version subtitled “Melanconia”.  

Here’s a song that doesn’t have a video yet, but I suspect it will be his ticket to international success.  Of course I’m talking about Eric Saade, whose Saade Volume Two will drop on November 30.  His latest domestic success in Sweden is “Hotter Than Fire”, featuring Dev, and their voices play off of each other quite nicely.  The song is irresistible and I picture it blasting at many New Year’s Eve parties.   Listen below – can’t wait for the album, and maybe the video too!

 

Lastly, take a look at this snap from Adam Tyler’s upcoming video for “Like A Drug”.  Looks like huge choreography happenin’ so watch for it! 

Tuned-On! Top 30 #364 – October 24/11

It took a month and a half of waiting – thanks to the instantly overpowering effect of his duet on “Wicked Baby” with Ro Danishei, which held court for 6 weeks – but “Laser Guns Up” by Simon Curtis takes the top spot this week on my personal chart.  It’s one of the key reasons for you to buy his sophomore album R∆ on iTunes, and is one of a number of rousing and anthemic songs that will make you want more!  But right behind “Guns” are buddies Frankmusik and Colette Carr, whose duet on “No ID” is one of those reasons why music can make you smile, take you away for three minutes, and be happy in 2011.

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.

I’m going to talk about the highest debut on the chart now because this song has all the makings of being MASSIVE.  I previewed “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy this past summer, after the song found favour in the Ibiza club circuit, being touted by no less than the legendary Tiësto himself.  There are several reasons why this song launches at an impressive #5 on my chart.  The pairing of the two DJ teams is impressive.  You combine European DJ/producer Rune RK’s flair for creating Ibiza beach party anthems with Austin duo Databoy’s creativity and vocals, along with a seductive lyrical subtext, and voilà – “Memorize Me” is a true original.  Revel in each listen or dance your ass off, your choice 🙂  Way to go – I can’t get enough of this song right now.  It will be available imminently as a free download but for now you can listen to it right here.

The stunning debut of “Memorize Me” has created a bit of a backup on the chart for songs 6 through 11.  The infectious “Bad Dog” by Neon Hitch scoots up a notch to #6, while “Pull The Trigger” from Adam Tyler’s debut album Shattered Ice rises 9-7.  Adam is touring actively to promote the album, and “Trigger” looks to join past chart hits “Friction” and “I Won’t Let You Go” in my Top 5.

Penguin Prison’s self-titled album was finally released in North America this past week and I’ll have my comments on it in the week.  In the meantime the Dirty Vegas remix of “Fair Warning” moves 11-8.

Kyle Brylin’s “My Fizzy Pop” and Eric Saade’s “Stupid with You” round out the Top 10.  The prolific Kyle has more new music coming for you in his upcoming “Revenge” project, while Eric’s upcoming album Saade Volume Two drops on November 30, with a new single featuring Dev arriving next week.

Most of the rest of the Top 20 looks Top 10 bound.  Arriving this week in the rest of the world – Australia got the album last week – is Secret Codes And Battleships, the fourth solo album by Darren Hayes.  His compelling and heart-felt Australian single “Bloodstained Heart” rises to #11.  The song is available in a free download as a remix through Darren’s website by the talented Monsieur Adi right here.

“Famous” by Audio Playground is a certified hit in Canada and jumps to #12, while the smooth and sexy mid-tempo R&B ballad by Nick Hagelin called “Metaphor” moves up to #15.  Agnes’ powerful “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” jumps to #18, while “The Way I See” by Will Young rises to #19, and Kyle Brylin’s second chart entry, the late night club rave-up “Never Love A DJ”, climbs to #20.

The fastest riser on the chart is the contagious fun that is “Block After Block” by Matt & Kim, which soars 25-16.  The Brooklyn duo is playing a New Year’s show in NYC which is guaranteed to be a blast.  I’ve been getting into their album Sidewalks more and more these past few weeks.  Their music has an exhilarating and distracting effect – most needed right now!

Four more debuts round out the chart.  The Netherlands’ Matt Blue is a talent to watch for internationally in 2012.  His debut single “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)” has been released by Universal in most of the European countries and has started to breakout.  Despite its familiar formula, the song has such a terrific sincere performance showcasing Matt’s supurb vocals.  It debuts at #13.  Watch the video below.

Down further is one half of the debut single by American singer Lana Del Rey, who is based out of London and is finding some success initially in the Benelux countries.  “Blue Jeans” comes to us in the form of a sexy Penguin Prison remix.  I like it a lot better than its other half, “Video Games”.  Listen to “Blue Jeans” below.

At #25 is “White Horse” by New York trio Jessica 6, who I’m hoping to see in a club show in the coming weeks.  It’s part of the group’s disco-music-with-a-conscience, you can move along to this song effortlessly while singing the chorus that gets stuck in your head.  Take a look at the video below.  Not to be confused with the 80’s hit by Laid Back.

Rounding out the chart at #26 is “Then I Go Twisting”, one of the stellar songs from the Frankmusik-produced album Tomorrow’s World by UK dance pop veterans Erasure.  I’ll have my comments about Tomorrow’s World in the week.  In the meantime, you can listen to the entire album for yourself right here.

Lastly, I’m going to leave you with an incredibly guilty pleasure.  “I Like” is a new European dance single by DJ/producer Klaas and DJ/production duo Bodybangers.  It gets right into your face and into your head, courtesy of lead vocals by the stunning singer/model Victoria Kern.  Think Kesha meets Pussycat Dolls with a dash of “Jump Around” by House of Pain, and you’re right there.  Watch the fun video below and don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Like last year’s “We No Speak Americano”, it may be coming to a wedding or party near you sometime soon.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #363 – October 10/11

October is proving to be a watershed month in 2011 for album releases – yes that’s right album releases!  As many of you know, I’m a singles-going-steady kinda guy, one song will do it for me over an entire album.  So we have no shortage of album releases this month – priorities for me by Darren Hayes, Erasure, Penguin Prison, Chris Isaak, Florence & The Machine (Nov 1), and the already released Adam Cohen – plus Evanescence, Kelly Clarkson, Drake, Coldplay all on deck too… well the iTunes gift cards will be bountiful this year.  So my new personal chart is a transitional one until the floodgates open.  And I’m still waiting for some highly anticipated singles to drop – “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy and “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)” by Matt Blue to name two.

So something will likely give at the top of the chart in two weeks, and 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.  But for now it continues to be “Wicked Baby” by Ro Danishei and Simon Curtis at the top but virtually neck and neck with Simon’s own “Laser Guns Up” in second place.  Rumour has it that Ro is now signed to Sony BMG – fantastic! – but I’m not sure of details, and I’m sure they will be forthcoming at some point.

“Disco Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light should by all rights join “A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II” as number ones on this chart, but may get shortchanged in the coming weeks, so it jumps to #3 for now.  New York’s Jessica 6 will be starting a small North American club date tour soon, which will then take them to Europe.  “Prisoner Of Love”, their unique splash of disco nightlife pairing with Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons, climbs to #4.  I’m anxiously awaiting the video for this song!

The Top 5 is rounded out by the Fastest Riser on the chart.  “No I.D.” by Frankmusik and Colette Carr are in the running for the top as the song surges 20-5, thanks to relentless touring – now that the Erasure/Frankmusik tour is wrapping up overseas, there will be another tour for both performers along with fellow Cherrytree Records signees LMFAO and Far East Movement, starting very soon!

Songs 6 through 12 are trapped in the middle and some should break loose in two weeks.  “Fix Me”, the stunning ballad by L.A.’s Matthew Kurz and his free download mixtape, holds at #6, while “Bad Dog” by UK singer Neon Hitch (and that’s her real name too!) jumps to #7.  And what would a chart be without Adele?  “Set Fire To The Rain” is her third Top Tenner for me from the 21 album, currently one of my favourite albums of the year along with others such as R∆  by Simon Curtis, Eric Saade’s Saade Volume One, and Do It In The A.M. by Frankmusik.

Contemporary electro pop is all a flutter right now as represented by a delightful next bunch:  Adam Tyler’s “Pull The Trigger” becomes his third Top 10 entry at #9; “My Fizzy Pop” by Kyle Brylin follows “Everything I’m Missing” as his second Top Tenner; Penguin Prison does not look to miss the Top 10, making it five in a row in two weeks with “Fair Warning”; and “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade is simply charming pop at its best.

“Bloodstained Heart” by Darren Hayes can only be purchased in Australia right now, but will be on release worldwide in two weeks when his album Secret Codes And Battleships arrives.  The song continues to rise up to #14.  Florence & The Machine’s “What The Water Gave Me” is holding at #18 while their new album Ceremonials is on deck.  And four more of last week’s debuts make headway.  Will Young’s free download of “The Way I See” climbs to #22, while Swedish pop queen Agnes moves 29-23 with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.  Nick Hagelin’s tender R&B ballad “Metaphor” also climbs to #20 and is a free download from his website.  With every week that passes, “Famous” by Audio Playground manages to find more radio stations playing it in Canada – Top 50 on the Billboard Canadian Top 100.  This past week saw the debut of the video of the French version of the song, featuring Randy Raymond.  Watch it below.

I’ve spent the past week blogging and tweeting about Like A Man, the fresh start of a sophomore release by Adam Cohen (son of Leonard), as well as his lovely and intimate show I saw in Toronto this past week.  His beautiful and thoughtful single “What Other Guy” (available as a free download) arrives at #24.  One of Kyle Brylin’s latest releases, the propulsive and somewhat gleefully cynical “Never Love A DJ” joins “My Fizzy Pop” on the chart at #27.  Lastly, on the more raucous side, Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim have been promoting the hell out of last year’s release Sidewalks.  I saw them perform last Fall, and they won me over with their energy and crowd interaction.  “Block After Block”, from Sidewalks, keeps grabbing my attention, and with a spot-on performance on the Jimmy Fallon show this summer, the song arrives on the chart at #25.  If you don’t know about this fun pair, watch the Fallon performance by clicking on the link below, as well as the official video at the top of the blog, and you will be converted.

http://busk.com/news/matt-and-kim-late-night-with-jimmy-fallon-video

Tuned-On! Top 30 #362 – September 26/11

As Autumn is upon us, like the leaves that begin to fall, some recent favourites of mine drop off my personal chart to make room for some noteable new blood.  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.

There is no moving the Top 4 songs, no sirree they just aren’t a budging.  “Wicked Baby”, the insanely catchy song that updates the Ace of Base vibe courtesy of Ro Danishei & Simon Curtis hangs on to #1 vying with Simon’s own victory cry “Laser Guns Up” in second place.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People keeps its summery lustre long enough for another chart at #3, while “Disco Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light is solid and still on the rise at #4.  The only change-up in the Top 5 sees Jessica 6’s duet with Antony Hegarty on “Prisoner Of Love” belatedly making a big gain in the face of so many great songs on the chart.  A video for the song is forthcoming!

The rest of the Top 10 sees a major shakeup.  The intense emotions of Matthew Kurz’s “Fix Me” often give me pause for many thoughts, and the song soars 11-6.  Do check out this talented singer/songwriter’s FREE mixtape using the link on my chart page.  October 18 is the North American street date for Penguin Prison’s self-titled album.  As Chris Glover and band continue to play dates throughout North America, they are present on the chart with both “Multi-Millionaire” at #7 and “Fair Warning” rising to #14.  To entice you more, Penguin Prison has a FREE download of “Don’t Fuck With My Money” available with an email subscription right here.  You can hear that song above this paragraph.  Then, our favourite “Bad Dog” is on the loose!  Neon Hitch played a well received gig last week in New York City, and her song is propelled to #8.  Adele’s enduring and powerful “Set Fire To The Rain” takes 9th place, while the heartfelt “Never Will Be Mine” by Rye Rye featuring Robyn lands at #10.

The middle of the chart is nothing less than busy.  “Pull The Trigger” is the hottest song on Adam Tyler’s very good Shattered Ice release, with it’s sad-but-gotta-do-it lyrics married with an anthemic house rhythm.  It’s also the hottest song on the chart as the Fastest Riser, moving 22-12 and you can listen to the song above.  Then, we have the ultra-prolific Kyle Brylin with a real pick-me-up if there ever was one, “My Fizzy Pop” at #13.  Not only did Kyle cover Rihanna’s “S&M” earlier this year, but perhaps he’s drinking the same water, since she’s coming out with new stuff as frequently.  He teases you below with a preview of the hard hitting trance track “Never Love A DJ” and “Poison Venus” below this paragraph.  Full comments about these songs later!  And by no means should you think that “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade is done, after moving one place to #15.  It’s a fantastic pop song, one of many on Saade Volume One as we await Saade Volume Two sometime in November!

At the top of this blog, you watched the new video for Darren Hayes’ Australian single “Bloodstained Heart”, which climbs to #17.  I’m hoping it will be released to the rest of the world after “Black Out The Sun”.  In particular, I enjoy Darren’s soothing high register and the dramatic crescendo halfway that serves as anticipation for the final scene of the video.  Darren’s album Secret Codes And Battleships is released October 17 in the UK and October 21 in the rest of the world.  Right below “Bloodstained Heart” we see the debut song from Florence & The Machine’s sophomore album Ceremonials.  “What The Water Gave Me” moves up 26-18 in this chart edition.

The rest of the chart sees six debuts!  It’s a huge week ahead for Frankmusik as his second album Do It In The A.M. sees release on September 27.  The latest single, “No I.D.” featuring the delightful Colette Carr, arrives on the chart at #20 and is gradually becoming one of the must-hear songs of the year along with its “Grease”-y video above.  2011 has been one heck of a ride for Frankmusik and it hasn’t stopped yet!  Next up is the beautiful song from Nick Hagelin that I cannot get enough of right now.  “Metaphor” (which I blogged about last week) premieres at #23.  Further down at #26 is a song that has hung on throughout the summer despite no North American release for the singer’s album.  “The Way I See” doesn’t appear on Will Young’s latest album Echoes, but you can get it in a FREE download from a link in my chart (the song was previously available for free through Amazon UK).  It’s Will’s first appearance in these pages, and I look forward to paying closer attention to the songs in Echoes.

An impressive video for “Famous” by Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall quickly arrived on our doorstep (above) and debuts at #27 on the chart.  The song’s a certified hit, conquering Canadian radio by being added to practically every pop station in the country, while the French language version featuring Randy Raymond is everywhere in Quebec.  Then at #28 we have Ms Grace Jones, sounding like she never left the music scene with her first release in 22 years called Hurricane.  From that album we have the sinewy and compelling “Williams Blood”, which is available in the FREE Aeroplane remix radio edit (link in on my chart page).

This edition closes at #29 with a song hot off the presses this week by a singer whose voice I adore.  Agnes Carlsson had a massive year in 2008/09 with her European album release Dance! Love! Pop! which contained the UK Top 5 and Billboard Dance Club Play #1 hit “Release Me”, one of my Top 10 favourites of that year.  With voice to rival no less than a Leona Lewis, Agnes is back with a tougher and equally powerful pop/dance song that will turn more heads around the world this time.  Watch “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (not the Elton John song) above and keep your ears peeled for much, much more from Agnes throughout the year and into 2012.

Thanks for reading!  Watch for changes to this blog coming soon too.  One thing I hope to change after this week is to give you shorter and more timely blogs, as well as the longer bi-weekly recap of my chart.