Cool Clever Covers

As many of you know, it is not my first choice to listen to a cover of someone else’s song as the original almost always is better. ¬†But here are some intriguing choices from some reliable performers you know all too well from these blog pages ūüôā

Adam Tyler “One Thing”

As a precursor to plenty of new songs to come from the always-busy Adam, the singer/songwriter has delved into current tweendom with a sharp cover of One Direction’s “One Thing”. ¬†It’s a smart diversion from the original, starting with a gruffer vocal but the song moves along to showcase Adam’s range and perfectly captures the sentiment of the song. ¬†It’s a pleasant surprise from a song that’s been covered a lot since its release. ¬†Listen below and check out Adam’s website.

Matthew Kurz “Diamonds”

So many performers are already out of the gate trying to outdo Rihanna’s version of this Sia song. ¬†To me, this is one song that can be improved on immensely, and Matthew Kurz, who is so adept at his own songs, can do just that, as witness to his triumphant version of “Titanium” this past summer. ¬†His vocal on “Diamonds” actually accentuates the lyrics and once again showcases his fine, expressive voice, giving it a totally different feel to the original. ¬†Listen below and check out his You Tube channel for more music.

Charly Mae, “Your Body”

And you might be thinking, oh who can possibly do this song justice so soon after its release? ¬†You may recall UK singer and resident gal-in-pink Charly Mae Tuffen from these pages earlier this year when she introduced herself with a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”, followed by an equally punchy original “4 Ya Queen”. ¬†Well since she had already tackled a Christina song, why not another? ¬†With a re-recorded instrumental track, “Your Body” is simply soft putty when set to Charly Mae’s voice. ¬†She has the range to get the job done as if she owned the song. ¬†More new Charly Mae music will be coming soon so stay tuned to her Facebook page. ¬†Watch her perform “Your Body” below.

Kyle Brylin, “Untouched”

Ever prolific Kyle is so often on a roll that I miss the odd song choice and have to backtrack. ¬†So I re-found his rendition of The Veronicas’ smash “Untouched”, and while it doesn’t sound drastically different from the song musically, the lower register of Kyle’s voice is perfectly suited to it and matches the spontaneous-sounding energy level of the original. ¬†Kyle is great at delving full thrust into the heart of many of his cover choices, and you can get this one as a free download right here.

Baiyu, “Paranoid”

Wait, a new cover of the classic Black Sabbath rocker? ¬†Heh heh… No, New York singer Baiyu logically tackles the 2009 hit by the Jonas Brothers to showcase how she can breeze through a straight-forward pop song. ¬†And what better way than by appearing as a contestant on the CW’s “The Next” in front of judge Joe Jonas? ¬†Jonas fans have latched on to her and this is surely a delightful treat for them. ¬†You can download “Paranoid” for free right here – appearing on “The Next” is only the start for this top notch talent so watch her You Tube channel for more news!

15th Anniversary Edition: BILLCS Top 30 #388 – September 24/12

In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, in other ways it’s like yesterday. ¬†15 years ago this week I began posting my personal chart online on a regular basis.

As I was discovering the ‘Net through our dial-up connection in 1996/97, I was able to find message boards and chart sites where, yes, there were actually music chart geeks like me, who created their own lists of favourites, or sometimes a list of songs that were heavily influenced by radio play of the day. ¬†I had compiled my own charts back in the 70’s, but abandoned that when I joined my university radio station, where I influenced their chart and my fellow DJ’s, and eventually became in charge of producing their chart! ¬†I continued to assist with this well past graduation and into my free-lance writing days. ¬†After that, I still produced my own lists but they weren’t charts, just a way to keep track of what I liked and what was current.

So the rabid presence of all kinds of music on the Internet has been and will continue to be a blessing for me, and I’ll keep on producing my chart as long as people are interested in reading it and chatting with me about it and its songs. ¬†I posted charts now and again throughout 1997 online, but I don’t have copies of any of those charts until January 1998 when I began saving them and documenting them, because I just knew this wasn’t going to go away, though “Turn My Head” by Live was my #1 in September 1997. ¬†So I’m 388 bi-weekly editions in (the first 8 months had a Top 10 only), and here’s what’s happening ūüôā

His Push Rewind album goes several songs deeper, but “Remember When (Push Rewind)” by Chris Wallace holds at #1 for a 3rd appearance (6th week), with “Dreams Are Gold” by DATABOY not giving up second place yet. ¬†This makes it difficult when two fun and engaging songs, “Go For Gold” by Kyle Patrick, and “Spectrum” by Zedd & Matthew Koma, each advance within the Top 5. ¬†They are joined by “Houdini” by Foster the People, making it 3 for 3 for the trio following fellow Top Fivers “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Call It What You Want”. ¬†Also – Mark Foster’s tweets under @FosterThePeople are so worth following. ¬†He’s definitely got interesting opinions but also tweets about great things, including the challenge he gave to a photographer to lose weight over a number of months, with the reward being a financial amount from Mark himself. ¬†Inspiring!

You’ll notice that “Spectrum” by Florence & The Machine is now out of the Top 5 at #7 and “Timebomb” by Kylie Minogue rests at #14. ¬†But despite reaching #3 and #4 respectively, both songs will rank highly at year’s ends, possibly higher than some of my #1’s! ¬†We’ll see! ¬†Markus Riva’s “We Dance 4 Reason” climbs to a new peak at #9.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL‚ÄôS PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click¬†right here.¬†You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.¬† Any free downloads that are identified are sanctioned by the performer. ¬†There‚Äôs always a tiny place at the bottom of the blog post with tags and the statement ‚ÄúLeave A Comment‚ÄĚ ‚Äď please feel free to do so¬†:)

The fastest riser on the chart, for a second time, is the completely crazy and irresistible “Music Makes You Lose Control” by Carlos N√≥brega, which leaps over his own “Turn It Up” (at #11), to move 17-8. ¬†You can listen to the full song near the top of this post or below on Soundcloud. ¬†Once “MMYLC” grabs you, it doesn’t let go, so you can find it on iTunes – and right now I’m waiting for remixes! ¬†Carlos is just finishing off his album, and you’ll know more about that from me as it happens. ¬†Joining “MMYLC” in the Top 10 for the first time is the irrepressible “Genius” by DATABOY at #10. ¬†That song can also be found on the duo’s Dreams Are Gold album.

Lots of great new songs continue to move up. ¬†A massive hit in Sweden, “Long Time” by John De Sohn & Andreas Moe climbs to #12. ¬†Andreas also recorded an acoustic version on his Collecting Sunlight EP which I wrote about a while back. ¬†“Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding is whetting fans’ appetites while she’s on tour in anticipation of the Halcyon album, and rises to #13. ¬†Jeronimo’s “Unheard” isn’t released as a single anywhere, but it’s my next favourite song to the title track of his album One Kiss and jumps to #15. ¬†“Unheard” is just one of those singalongs where the lyrics just find their way easily into your mouth. ¬†Jeronimo is starring in a new movie called “My Dad’s A Detective – The Battle”, and a video for his beautiful ballad “Firefly” includes snippets of scenes from that movie. ¬†I’m not sure if we’ll see this movie in North America, but our young Netherlander is obviously a double threat! ¬†Watch the video below.

Songs 16 through 21 keep the chart looking busy – as they should because every song on this chart is a winner regardless of where it peaks. ¬†The offbeat melodies and lyrics of songs on Saint Motel’s Voyeur album are really appealing to me, and the clarinet-sample-led “Benny Goodman” is at #16. ¬†“Over It” by Colin Munroe looks to follow “The Fight Of My Life” into the Top 10 and rises to #17. ¬†“Feel It” is the latest single by Bright Light Bright Light, featuring Mykal Kilgore, and soars to #18. ¬†Of course, Rod Thomas (aka BLx2) has double-whammied us once again with a new video for the song, and a mashup for free download called “Let’s Have A Feel”, which has great fun in setting Scissor Sisters’ #1 club hit “Let’s Have A Kiki” to the music of “Feel It”. ¬†Watch the video and listen to the mashup below.

UK duo Bim are busy working on an album, and you’ll find out more when you go to their website and download “Lights Out”, which resides at #19. ¬†Despite the blond look on the cover of his EP We Should, Kyle Brylin has returned to short brown hair for a new single, the piano ballad “Ain’t The Same” (which you can hear below and download for free from Soundcloud right here). ¬†In the meantime, the chart sticks to the electro-house of the poignant “Hurricane”, which climbs to #20. ¬†There’s always a place for a theatrical sound on my chart from time to time, and “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” by Jane Badler nails it in spades and rises to #21.

Rounding out the chart are three debuts. ¬†I wrote about “Evolved” by Minnesota singer Vague-√†-bonde (aka Nicole Brenny) a little while back. ¬†The combination of soft, genuine vocals and one of the best chorus hooks you’ll hear this year sends the song into the chart at an impressive #24. ¬†You can download it for free right here. ¬†It’s taken a little longer than usual for “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons to sink in, but the opening episode of this season’s “Glee” has kept the song in my head (especially in its Penguin Prison remix, which you can get on iTunes). ¬†“It’s Time” bows at #26 (watch the video at the bottom of the post if you’re not yet familiar with it). ¬†And this past week I wrote about “Between The Raindrops”, the single from the upcoming new Lifehouse album, which features Natasha Bedingfield in a well-placed guest appearance. ¬†The song arrives at #27 and is Lifehouse’s 9th entry on the chart since debuting back at the end of 2000 with one of my all time favourite songs, “Hanging By A Moment”. ¬†Here’s the complete list:

“Hanging By A Moment”, #1, 2001
“Sick Cycle Carousel”, #20, 2001
“Everything”, #3, 2001
“Spin” #1, 2002
“You And Me”, #3, 2005
“Halfway Gone”, #3, 2010
“Had Enough” (with Chris Daughtry), “#11, 2010
“All In”, #8, 2010

BILLCS Chart #387 – September 10/12

I often refer to my bi-weekly chart as a list of my favourite songs of the moment, but it also serves as a recap of what I’ve been listening to over the last few weeks.

Suffice it to say, my last week has been filled with Chris Wallace songs from his solo album Push Rewind, which was released last Monday, and I posted my thoughts about it in the week. ¬†Lead single “Remember When (Push Rewind)” holds on to #1 on my chart quite handily, the first of what I expect will be a few appearances for Chris on the chart in the coming months. ¬†With three songs on the chart, DATABOY is hardly out of the picture, with “Dreams Are Gold” ranking #2 and the fun “Genius” rising to #13. ¬†Both “Spectrum”s on the chart now surround “Go For Gold” by Kyle Patrick, which rises to #4. ¬†Florence & The Machine stay at #3 with the Calvin Harris remix, and Zedd & Matthew Koma soar to #5 (the video is below if you’ve missed it). ¬†Who will succeed Chris Wallace at #1. ¬†Frankly, I just don’t know yet!

Also climbing within the Top 10 is Bright Light Bright Light with “Moves” from Make Me Believe In Hope at #6 – though it’s not the second single from the album (more on that below). ¬†Right below is “Houdini” in a free download Green Children remix by Foster The People. ¬†New to the Top 10 are Baiyu’s “Hunter” at #9 and “We Dance 4 Reason” from Markus Riva at #10. ¬†Baiyu may get a wild card spot on “The Next” TV show in coming episodes due to her strong performance in the New York City round. ¬†Markus has another single up his sleeve, with a video being shot soon for “Chase”. ¬†The video for “Reason” is below.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL‚ÄôS PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click¬†right here.¬†You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.¬† Any free downloads that are identified are sanctioned by the performer. ¬†There‚Äôs always a tiny place at the bottom of the blog post with tags and the statement ‚ÄúLeave A Comment‚ÄĚ ‚Äď please feel free to do so¬†:)

Portugal’s Carlos N√≥brega is close to descending on the Top 10 with two songs, “Turn It Up”, which rises to #11, and the big, bouncy anthem “Music Makes Me Lose Control”, which is the fastest riser, vaulting 23-17. ¬†The trance-oriented “Long Time” by Sweden’s John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe on vocals moves up to #14 (strange but eye-catching video below), Ellie Goulding’s infectious single “Anything Could Happen” from her upcoming Halcyon album rises to 16, “Benny Goodman” by Saint Motel is up to #19, “Lights Out” by UK duo Bim jumps to #22 as a free download, and “Hurricane” by Kyle Brylin is at #25.

Three familiar faces comprise 3/4 of our debuts. ¬†My next favourite song from young Netherlands singer Jeronimo’s album One Kiss after the title track is the jaunty “Unheard” (listen below), which bows at #20 as “One Kiss” spends its last appearance on the chart after a maximum of 10 (20 weeks). ¬†Then, Toronto’s Colin Munroe unleashed his latest mixtape Unsung Hero mid-last week, and I’ll have some detailed words on that in the week. ¬†In the meantime, his free download of the empowering “Over It”, which I wrote about last week, arrives at #23. ¬†The second official single from Bright Light Bright Light’s Make Me Believe In Hope is in fact the tailored-for-clubs “Feel It”, featuring Mykal Kilgore in a shimmering remix below, at #26. ¬†The last debut, if you didn’t guess it from yesterday’s blog post, is “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” by Jane Badler at #28.

BILLCS Chart #386 – August 27/12 – Be Kind, Push Rewind!

The top of my personal chart is tighter than ever, as DATABOY’s “Dreams Are Gold” gives way ever so slightly to “Remember When (Push Rewind)” by Indiana-born Chris Wallace, which advances to #1 just before the release date of his album Push Rewind (album cover art above, reprise of the video below). There’s a lot of the Top 10 that stays the same – with good reason, the songs on this chart are especially strong – but in the midst there is some notable movement.

Kyle Patrick has been to Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia these past few weeks. The house that The Click Five built over there is significant, and Kyle’s “Go For Gold” is making great strides on their charts. From his self-titled EP, “Gold” is definitely winning, and climbs to #6 on the chart. Down further there are two new entries to the Top 10. The spry Green Children remix of Foster The People’s “Houdini” works its magic at #9, while fastest riser “Spectrum” by Zedd featuring Matthew Koma is headed for the upper reaches, advancing 21-10.

Mark Thursday, August 30 on your calendar to watch the New York episode of The CW network’s new show “The Next”. The supremely talented Baiyu is one of four contestants – and her competition had better be on their game! Best of luck to Baiyu ūüôā Her song “Hunter” climbs to #11 on my chart. Her coach on the show is none other than Nelly.

Several other upwardly mobile songs continue towards the Top 10. “We Dance 4 Reason” by Latvian dancer, model, DJ/producer, and singer, Poptronik performer Markus Riva vaults 20-14, followed directly by the long-lasting “When She Was Mine” by Lawson at #15. ¬†Watch their video for the UK Top 5 hit “Taking Over Me” below. ¬†The third chart entry for DATABOY, the splendiforous “Genius”, jumps to #16, with “Long Time” by Sweden’s John De Sohn and singer/songwriter Andreas Moe (also still residing at #7 with “Collecting Sunlight” himself) rising to #17. The feel good vibe of L.A.’s Saint Motel continues at #22 with the swinging “Benny Goodman”, while “Emergency” by Audio Playground with Snoop Dogg is up to #24.

All of our new entries are by performers who have already visited the chart, some more recently than others. We’ll start with a couple of doubles, please. The highest new entry at #20 is the instantaneously ear-pleasing pop of Ellie Goulding with her first single from the upcoming Halcyon album (artwork above) with “Anything Could Happen”. While “Lights” took its sweet time getting to the upper reaches of the international charts, the response to “Anything” should be swifter. Ellie’s free download cover of The Weeknd’s “High For This” continues to climb at #19. Then we have the good natured dance floor fun brought to us by Portugal’s Carlos N√≥brega, whose latest song “Music Makes You Lose Control” (#23) will be sure to inspire much dancing at those upcoming Hallowe’en parties. ¬†The anthemic “Turn It Up” is lifted to #12 as well.

After “Scream” from this past Spring, one could see that UK duo Bim are headed in the right direction as they create songs for their upcoming sophomore album. Their latest single, “Lights Out” (video reprise below), is a free download that combines the emotion of the songs from Scatterheart and some wickedly powerful vocals to create a song that is completely captivating and arrives at #27. Their “Head Over Heels” got to #3 on my chart in 2010. Lastly Kyle Brylin is back with some slick electronica featuring catchy melodies and hooks like we heard last year in “Everything I’m Missing” (#5) and “Never Love A DJ” (#8). From his latest 4 song EP comes the emotional house track “Hurricane” at #28. ¬†So that makes Kyle (Patrick), Kyle (Brylin), and Kylie on the chart – a nice triple play ūüôā

AND DON’T FORGET: ¬†A year in the making, the Poptronik festival in Sitges, Spain will be a dream come true for electronica fans on September 1 and 2. ¬†Needless to say I’m jealous of all those who can party on the beach to some great performers, including Andy Bell of Erasure, Markus Riva, Adam Tyler, SIRPAUL, Garcon Garcon, and many more. ¬†Best of luck to all involved!

REEEE-CAP… and a Dance Popervescence Mix for You!

Zedd featuring Matthew Koma “Spectrum”

One of my current songs of the moment is Zedd’s irresistible “Spectrum”. ¬†A truly captivating, feel good (despite the end) video, featuring “Sons of Anarchy”‘s Taryn Manning, makes it one of the best views and listens around. ¬†Look fast for both Zedd and Matthew!

Kyle Brylin “Hurricane”

Our Kyle keeps the electronica comin’ on his new 4 song EP We Should, which features this rich emotional house song, which keeps you thinking while you get your work out. ¬†This is Kyle’s most promising original effort since last year’s similarly clubby “Never Love ¬†A DJ”. ¬†Other songs include the biting title track, “Making Memories”, and “Inferno”. Do blonds have more fun? ¬†Get it on iTunes.

Kid Massive featuring DATABOY “Good Girlfriend”

We all know what happened when fave duo DATABOY went Danish and met up with DJ/producer Rune RK – we got the mesmerizing “Memorize Me”. ¬†Fellow Dane DJ/producer Kid Massive (aka Benjamin Pedersen) brings the boys into the mix for his upcoming release with the new single “Good Girlfriend”, which is a rollicking and slamming good time, and we would expect absolutely nothing less.

Marco “Heartbeat”

18 year old Marco Santarlasci is the latest young buck from NYC to cause young hearts to flutter with his earnest and soulful debut single “Heartbeat”. ¬†He’s got a lovely imperfectly charming voice that carries the genteel video storyboard along. ¬†Watch for great things from Marco – put him about halfway between Conor Maynard and Jesse McCartney.

Ross Lynch “Heard It On The Radio”

I don’t normally slide over to the Disney side of the fence to write about one of their performers too often, but 16 year old Ross Lynch (Austin on TV’s “Austin & Ally”) has a natural screen presence, and seems to have the musical chops as well, playing guitar, drums, bass and keyboards. ¬†So his debut single “Heard It On The Radio” is a breezy and joyous summer day on the beach whose chorus stays in your head afterwards. ¬†He’s also in the band R5, featuring his brother Ryder, who is one of the Warblers on TV’s “Glee”.

And here’s a new dance mix for you, featuring excerpts of 18 songs in 39 minutes. ¬†This is what you’re getting into ūüėČ : ¬†The Zedd/Matthew Koma and Kyle Brylin songs above, plus others (many on my current chart¬†– shameless plug) by RAC/Penguin Prison, Baiyu, Foster The People, Florence & The Machine, The Knocks/Mandy Lee, Bright Light Bright Light, Darren Hayes, Lana Del Rey, Markus Riva, John De Sohn/Andreas Moe, Nina, DATABOY, Ellie Goulding, Bim, Sky Santos/Carlos N√≥brega, and The Weeknd. ¬†Guaranteed to make you move in all kinds of different ways! ¬†Let me know what you think – I’m particularly proud of a couple of the mixes, since I haven’t done this in a while ūüôā

Published in: on August 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Beyond the Tweets: New Songs by Late Nite Tuff Guy, Florence & The Machine, Foster The People, Green Day, Matthew Kurz, and When Kylie meets Kyle!

Late Nite Tuff Guy “Nobody”, “Boy U Turn Me”, and “Do I Believe In God”

And this is just a sampling of the sounds Australian DJ/Producer Late Nite Tuff Guy is creating by putting new spins on some true classics, as well as some that weren’t such huge hits. ¬†He keeps the original intent of the songs, doesn’t really disturb their cores, and then builds around them, allowing them to flow seamlessly into today’s dance music, through reworks, edits, or remixes. ¬†So don’t be surprised if you hear Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Prince, The Jackson 5, Steve Winwood and others in the midst of more contemporary electronica. ¬†It’s a fantastic way to introduce today’s dance club audiences to classic performers through the essence of some of their classic songs. ¬†So listen below to the recreations of “Ain’t Nobody”, “Upside Down”, and “Controversy” below – I think you’ll be impressed. ¬†With the breakthroughs of Skrillex and Deadmau5 over the last few years, there is room for someone as innovative as Late Nite Tuff Guy.

Florence & The Machine, “Spectrum” (Calvin Harris remix)

With all of the success of Florence Welch and her talented band over the last three years, it was surprising that no song from Ceremonials was utterly massive – until now. ¬†I had always enjoyed “Spectrum” as an album track, but had never thought of it being a breakthrough over songs like “Never Let Me Go” or “What The Water Gave Me”. ¬†“Shake It Out” did well enough as a single, but it is indeed the amazing Calvin Harris remix of “Spectrum” that literally sends the song over the top. ¬†Besides being at the top of the UK charts, “Spectrum” should be the worldwide radio breakthrough and dance club play hit that has eluded Florence & The Machine thus far. ¬†Can’t get it out of my head now!

Foster The People, “Houdini” (Green Children remix)

It’s already been a year since the release of the American trio’s Torches album, and since “Pumped Up Kicks” became a critical soundtrack to Summer ’11, which resulted in two Grammy Award nominations. ¬†The band’s constant touring has kept their music living through the public, and “Houdini”, the third single, with its positive+ lyrics, is no exception. ¬†I’m pretty partial to the free download release of the Green Children remix, which transforms the pop song into a club jam that will keep you jumpin’. ¬†

Green Day, “Oh Love”

After a return to a heavier sound on their last record, Green Day are about to release a trilogy of albums called ¬°Uno!,¬†¬°Dos!¬†and¬†¬°Tres!, with “Oh Love” being the initial release from the first of the three. ¬†Put this in a similar place as their classic 90’s power pop like “When I Come Around”, which bodes for a good start for the trio after the considerable success of the theatre version of American Idiot, which continues to play across North America. ¬†Get out your 3D glasses if you have ’em!

Matthew Kurz, “Titanium”

In these days of social media, you come across so many cover versions of popular songs of the moment. ¬†Among them, there are gems. ¬†LA singer Matthew Kurz came to my attention last year with the release of his free mixtape, which contained the stunning eye-welling ballad “Fix Me”, which reached #6 on my chart. ¬†He’s been busy creating viral covers and mashups of numerous songs lately, but I must say that his rendition of David Guetta/Sia’s “Titanium” is pretty bloody powerful. ¬†Listen below for this exceptional take, just when you thought overkill was overtaking this song.

Kylie Minogue featuring Kyle Brylin, “Timebomb”

Wisconsin native Kyle Brylin brought us all kinds of electronic popervescence in 2011 with covers like “S&M” and some well chosen originals like the still-hypnotic “Everything I’m Missing” (video below) and “Never Love A DJ”. ¬†He interjects himself into the “Timebomb” proceedings and manages to sound like he was always into Kylie’s business. ¬†How naughty – but in this case very nice indeed, especially with renewed interest in the song happening in the UK. ¬†Download it for free right here. ¬†Looking forward to more originals from Kyle soon.

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 ūüôā

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 Рmore 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? ūüėČ

30 SUPERHERO  Simon Curtis

Your Superhero arrived in May to stage the arrival of¬†R‚ąÜ.

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 РJacksonville 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 ūüôā

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‚ąÜ album. ¬†Totally different from even the songs within R‚ąÜ, 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‚ąÜ R‚ąÜ R‚ąÜ”.
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.


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 ūüôā

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 “Schei…ģe”, 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‚ąÜ 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‚ąÜ 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‚ąÜ 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‚ąÜ 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 here. You 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 ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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 here. You 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 ūüôā