BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #75 to #61

As in other years, most of my favourite songs of 2012 boiled down to the following criteria:  Music that makes you feel good and want to dance along, and voices/lyrics that just amazed.  There were several new great voices and faces, some returnees, and of course the completely unexpected.  In order to appear on this list, a song must have appeared and peaked on my personal chart between January 2 and December 17 published charts.  If it hadn’t attained its peak position yet, it will appear on my year end chart for 2013.

Click here to view songs #75 to #61  🙂

Three carryovers into 2012 in our first group of #75 through #61 are The Midway State’s “Fire!”,  Lady GaGa’s “Marry The Night”, and “Angel” by Darren Hayes.  Wrapping up their touring on their Paris Or India album, Toronto quartet The Midway State otherwise took a break from music in 2012, and I hope these talented friends will engage us again next year.  You could hear an excerpt of “Fire!” in Bell Canada commercials, and of course their biggest hit “Never Again” is the ringback for Rogers cellular phones.  GaGa was everywhere in 2012, it’s hard to say where The Born This Way Ball didn’t visit!  But a new Ball is on deck as is her forthcoming album ARTPOP, and I’m expecting a new single sometime in early 2013 to promote her touring in North America.  “Angel” by Darren Hayes was a personal choice to carry over.  You couldn’t possibly ask for a more reverent Madonna cover choice – it kept appearing on my iPod Touch shuffle, and as the vinyl flip side to “Talk Talk Talk”, it landed on my chart after the run of another song on this list, “Stupid Mistake”.  Darren’s Secret Codes And Battleships continued to be one of my most played albums into 2012, and one more carryover from that album is ranked higher on this list.  Watch the stunning video for “Stupid Mistake” and listen to Bright Light Bright Light’s percolating remix below as well.

More than ever, my chart contained a cornucopia of worldwide artists appear more than in any other year in recent memory.  Music has no official borders, only those that the music industry continues to put up which hinders availability of recordings and the ability of performers to tour.  Latvia is represented with singer/DJ/model Markus Riva and his dance rave-up “We Dance 4 Reason”, with another song to follow higher up.  “Turn It Up” is the high energy follow up to “Pitiful” for Portugal’s Carlos Nobrega, who is one of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 and has another song much later in the countdown.  The worldwide breakout from France this year is M83 whose hook from “Midnight City” (outstanding video below) is imprinted on the year (and an even better cover version appears higher up on the list), which led to sellout shows around the world.  Canadians Marianas Trench had their most successful year ever with last year’s Ever After album and the single “Fallout” among others.  Lead singer Josh Ramsay not only produced that album but is now a Grammy-nominee for co-writing Canadian label mate Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.  German DJ/producers Spencer & Hill paired up with the always amazing US vocalist Nadia Ali for “Believe It”, which is your dance song for weekend release after a hard work week.

There are three UK artists in this group.  Keane had a successful year around the world with their Strangeland album, led by the glorious “Silenced By The Night” this past Spring.  “Lights Out” was the second single from duo Bim’s EP of affecting and emotional electropop, Lifelines.  Bim are another of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 And a favourite from her Little Belter shows and the subsequent album, Elouise covered “Could It Be Magic” – less like the Barry Manilow version and more like Donna Summer’s – which turned out to be somewhat bittersweet as the song appeared on my chart at the time of the disco legend’s death.  Elouise is off to dazzle Australian audiences with the Little Belter show in early ’13 – the rest of the world will undoubtedly follow.

Three USA performers round out the list.  L.A. quartet Saint Motel released a quirky but very smart album Voyeur this past summer, and toured to support it.  The band’s singer also is responsible for directing the group’s unique videos, so check out the one for “Benny Goodman” below.  Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” dominated airwaves and TV video play at the top of the year and solidified her instant presence on the pop music scene (strangely yielding no Grammy nominations).  And the mixtape Hunter by Baiyu, generating the title song on this list, dazzled enough people to land her as a contestant on The CW’s “The Next” and on my 13 Performers To Watch for ’13 list.

BILLCS Chart #375 and Canadian Music Week Update

My new personal chart is taking a backseat to my Canadian Music Week update.  Despite lots and lots and lots of walking as well as shifting my regular body clock a few times to accommodate some shows, I was really glad I decided to purchase a Canadian Music Week wristband this year.  I had been to shows during CMW in the past but I really had the urge to get out and see some shows, since my winter months were pretty concert-deprived.

As much as I love the dance music that takes regular residence on my chart, getting away from autotune and seeing mainly raw live performances was well worth it.  I got to meet a lot of great people which shows me that the people making music out there are still the ones I enjoy most.  There are many talented people behind the scenes, but too much of a requisite amount of a-holes.  I used to find that with performers, too, but not in recent years.

So here are my highlights – if you follow me on Twitter, you pretty much realized that I needed to be cloned 😉

THE TEMPER TRAP:  The Aussie quintet is back with its self-titled follow up to Conditions due this Spring.  The group provided an entertaining mix of savvy pop, rock and dance music, capped with its big hit “Sweet Disposition”.  The new songs sound very gripping and I can’t wait to hear them.  Dougy Mandagi is an engaging front man.  Check out the video for new single “Need Your Love” below.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT:  It was way too long since I last saw Martha open up for her brother Rufus in one of his shows about 7 or 8 years ago.  I saw an in-store 20 minute acoustic set, and she was very inspiring and in fantastic voice.  Another upcoming album that will be well worth the wait.

AERIALS UP:  The first of my pop collectives, as I blogged about last week, the 7 piece Scottish unit led by Alan Kemlo offered up one of the very best shows I saw with a perfect balance of instrumentation.  The band was totally wrapped up and in the moment on stage, and the songs from their upcoming album due in April sounded fabulous.  Despite an effort to see them a second time that was screwed up from wrong information I received from the venue, I will look forward when Aerials Up return to Toronto.  I think they made a whole lot of fans here.

GENTLEMEN HALL:  Despite mediocre and sometimes distorted sound, the 6 piece Boston rock band led by Gavin Merlot and Cobi Mike who were my second pop collective stirred up a tempest on stage.  With synthesizers prominently in the mix, the band did not hesitate to add heavy guitars or some lovely melodies for a diverse set.  I got new appreciation for their song “Gravity Will Break Our Bones”.

IN MY COMA:  Though I didn’t get to see their CMW show, I did catch a set by the three piece Toronto band led by Jasper James that I wrote about recently a few days before CMW.  The band is tight with a rich contemporary take on post-grunge rock that is presented in their finely crafted CD package Magnets And Miracles.

BIG SCARY:  Big Scary is a duo from Australia comprising Tom Iansek and Jo Syme.  Lest you think that a the market for a two piece band with a female drummer comprised The (now defunct) White Stripes and Matt & Kim, we’ll you’re wrong.  Big Scary indeed does have a big rock sound (guitar/keyboards/drums) that takes inspiration from post 80’s new wave.  There seems to be lots of room for anything in their mix so I’ll look forward to hearing songs from their recent album Vacation.

THE SLAKADELIQS:  I’ve written about this Toronto outfit led by Slakah the Beatchild twice now, and was fortunate to catch their premiere public show.  Despite being sabotaged by poor sound, the band invited guest vocalists up on stage, to give their show a real community vibe.  This in turn was enhanced with their guitar players alternating with some fantastic dual cello work!  Best of all at the end came Justin Nozuka, who lifted the set into an entirely different game with his vocals for “Keep Breathing” and “Love Controls The Sun”.

RIVER TIBER:  It was very cool for me to actually meet Tommy Paxton-Beesley at The Slakadeliqs show, before I saw his band play their own set in a well-attended graveyard shift (3:00 a.m.) the next night.  River Tiber delivered the goods in performance especially on “Someday”, “These Are Centuries”, and a well-chosen rendition of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun”.  As I wrote a few weeks back, River Tiber’s From Now On is one of the few Must Hear records of 2012 thus far.

With that having been said, let’s move into chart mode 🙂

I could not leave Eric Saade stranded at #2 with “Backseat” after 10 weeks.  The last song I remember in a similar situation was “Crush (1980 Me)” by Darren Hayes, which got one appearance at #1 in 2002, but became one of my 10 favourite songs of the last decade!  I love the rock flavour and sexual undertones in “Backseat”.  If you haven’t heard it yet, listen below.  His other song on the rise on the chart, “Fingerprints”, slides up to #3 too.

Then back we go to Tommy Paxton-Beesley and River Tiber.  “Someday” is currently taking over my iTouch and it climbs 11-2 to challenge for #1 in two weeks.  Not only that, but another River Tiber song “Symmetry” will grab you when you’re not looking.  It debuts at #12.

The rest of the Top 10 shapes up with single point gains with songs by Graffiti6, JMSN, and Joe Jonas.  M83 enters at #10 with “Midnight City”, but it’s The Wanted that unexpectedly storm the Top 10 with “Glad You Came” at #9.  Oh, and boy bands are NOT back.  They never went away.

As the release of his Promising Promises album arrives in May, the stirring duo of Jon McLaughlin with Sara Bareilles on “Summer Is Over” inches towards the Top 10 at #11.  On a different bent, Colin Munroe’s inspiring “The Fight Of My Life” draws me in listen after listen and moves up to #13.  Last week’s other debuts all fare well.  The Knocks’ take on “Midnight City” rises to #19; “Could It Be Magic” is transformed by Elouise and climbs to #20; “Happiness” by the ever-talented Sam Sparro jumps to #22 (video is below); Kaya and Pierre Lewis  take “When I Was Blind” to #23; and “Call It What You Want” is at #24 for Foster The People.

It’s been almost 5 years since Tyler Hilton appeared in my chart with “You’ll Ask For Me”, but in the interim he’s been busy performing both on stage and on camera in film and on TV (“One Tree Hill”).  It’s hard to believe that Forget The Storm will only be his sophomore full album release, his first being 2004’s The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton.  But if the pensive and laid back “Prince Of Nothing Charming” (debuting at #26 – his 7th entry on my chart though!) proves anything it’s that Tyler Hilton is on his way to continuing to please his many fans and expand worldwide.  Watch for the release of Forget The Storm on April 3.

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.

BILLCS Top 30 #374 – March 12/12

As the top 5 songs on my chart remain exactly the same (that’s 4 appearances – 8 weeks – at #1 for “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy, plus 5 appearances at #2 for Eric Saade’s “Backseat” – and both songs are still red hot!), the rest of the chart gets a shake-up with 6 additions.  I’ve chatted about all of these songs before except the highest debut.

While the regular big hits from TV’s “Glee” now seem to have stopped, that doesn’t prevent the show from helping the original versions of some  of the songs they are performing to become huge hits in North America.  How many of you knew “We Are Young” by fun. featuring Janelle Monae before you saw the “Glee” performance”?  It’s currently #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  And not too far behind it is “Glad You Came” by The Wanted.  There’s nothing complex about this one – a simple unadulterated catchy fun song that deserves to be a hit.  It bows at #22 on my chart, yes a little belatedly, but nothing stops a good song.

In a bit of a chart first from these last 14 years, I’m charting the same song by two different performers.  “Midnight City” by M83 in its original version slides up comfortably to #12, but the version I premiered a few weeks back by The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee has its own vibe and merits and debuts at #23.  Plus – it’s a free download 🙂

The next two debuts don’t have official videos and both hail from the UK.  I do say it’s time for a revival of the Barry Manilow/Take That hit “Could It Be Magic”, this time as performed by captivating chanteuse Elouise.  Read my last blog post about her album Little Belterthe song debuts at #27.  It’s her 6th entry in my chart world – 2010’s “Pretender” even got as high as #2.  Then we have a chart premiere for young American singer Kaya with “When I Was Blind”, which has a preview on You Tube but is also available on iTunes in its original ballad form.  It features talented UK singer Pierre Lewis in a truly harmonious vocal pairing.  Pierre got to #2 in 2009 on my chart with “Broken” and has come close again with some other recent songs.  But “When I Was Blind” is a beautiful, classic ballad with loads of potential.  You can get the Florian Maier dance mix for free right here.  The song arrives at #28.

A video is forthcoming for Sam Sparro’s “Happiness”, from his upcoming Return To Paradise album, which premieres at #29.  Sam has just been back to his native Australia and is now poised to offer up lots of “Happiness” to the rest of the pop world 🙂  The last debut has been kicking around in my head, well at least since last November when I wrote about it.  I think I’ve still been a bit attached to “Pumped Up Kicks”, and while “Helena Beat” was promoted as the follow up I think the true successor is still “Call It What You Want” and its imaginative video.  It steps onto the chart at #30.

There’s still some impressive movement happening on the rest of the chart.  I like the sound of Graffiti 6 at #6, as “Free” continues its ascent.   Joe Jonas still has a two-fer in my Top 10 with “Make You Mine” hanging at #3, and “Not Right Now” now moving up 10-7.  JMSN’s “Something” climbs 14-8 as the singer prepares some more thought-provoking videos for our entertainment.  “Fallout” by Marianas Trench becomes their fifth top tenner at #9, and “Better Than I Know Myself” lands at #10 for Adam Lambert – very interested in hearing the other songs from his upcoming album Trespassing.  Last week’s new ones all made some fine gains this week.  Ryan Star’s “Stay Awhile” rises 25-18, while “The Fight Of My Life” by Colin Munroe featuring Pusha-T jumps 27-19.  Liquid Diet, who performed their first live show last night in New York City, slide up 29-24.

However, it’s “Someday” by River Tiber that you must keep your eyes and ears on.  A huge 26-11 jump smells of a #1 contender once the current dance music up top takes a break.  I’ll have lots more to say about Tommy Paxton-Beesley and his band in the coming week as River Tiber performs a couple of shows in my city.  I’ve been listening steadily to River Tiber’s From Now On album and the new EP Massachusetts, and have plenty to talk about once I collect my thoughts.  In the meantime, here’s that video for “Someday” again…

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.

BILLCS Top 30 #373 – February 27/12

Much of my personal chart stays the same in this end of February edition, but there are always the requisite new songs on the rise.  The big mover on this week’s chart is the increasingly infectious “Free” by Graffiti 6, which jumps 20-8.   The British duo of Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers comes off with a unique pop sound amid so much autotuned dross on the charts.  As testament to this, you’ll find an acoustic video of “Free” below as well as the official video.  As bloggers have claimed for the last few years, Graffiti 6 continues to impress and acquire new fans (me, among them).

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.

The top of the chart continues to be a friendly battle between “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy, which continues in the lead, and “Backseat” by Eric Saade.  The former’s intriguing story sweatered in electropop and the latter’s rock-flavoured sensual dance pop are both fantastic detours in the current pop world.  Not far behind is “Make You Mine” by Joe Jonas at #3, which like “Backseat” throws a little aggression into the mix.  The sensitive old-school R&B/pop of “Home” by Stone Walters continues at #4, and then it’s that guy Saade again at #5 with the mysterious and danceable singalong that is “Fingerprints”.  Aside from “Free” by Graffiti 6, the only other new entry to the Top 10 is another Jonas-should-be-smash done up as a break-up cha cha called “Not Right Now” at #10.

While the fine “Fallout” by Marianas Trench (video below) and “Born To Die” by Lana Del Rey each inch up a notch, Adam Lambert’s “Better Than I Know Myself” comes up the middle as Top 10 bound at #12.  JMSN’s intriguing “Something” is on the move at #14 (yes, more weird and wonderful videos are on the way), with “Summer Is Over” by Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles climbing to #16.  M83’s “Midnight City” continues to get stuck in my head for long periods of time and jumps to #17, while Fallulah’s “Out Of It” as remixed by the ingenious Monsieur Adi is equally captivating at #20.  The crowd pleasing “Believe It” by Spencer & Ross and Nadia Ali rounds out the songs to watch at #21.

I’ve already written about our four debuts in past posts.  But in case you haven’t got the tip from the above paragraphs, a lot more rock flavour seems to be finding its way into my personal chart.  Three out of the four debuts can attest to this.

At #25 is New Yorker Ryan Star, whose songs have fared extremely well on the chart since 2008, all reaching the Top 5:  “Right Now” (#2), “Start A Fire” (#3), “Last Train Home” (#4), and “Breathe” (#5).  “Stay Awhile” is no exception – a fine emotionally-charged and thoughtful rock ballad.  The video is below, as is Ryan’s rendition of “I Won’t Back Down”, a late 80’s hit for Tom Petty.

Then we have River Tiber, the band name for Canada’s Tommy Paxton-Beesley, which hits with “Someday” at #26.  It’s another song with genuine emotional fervour and highly-charged guitar playing that is made even better by Tommy’s Jeff Buckleyesque vocals which now give me goosebumps.  Catch the video below and become a believer, along with another one of River Tiber’s songs called “Symmetry”.  Be sure to download a new EP, hot off the presses, called Massachusetts, from River Tiber’s website.

Bowing at #27 is “The Fight Of My Life” by Colin Munroe featuring Pusha-T.  The duo concocted a wicked blend of pop, rock, R&B, and rap in this powerful song, which should put Toronto’s Colin back into the international scene handily.  A lot of people, myself included, can relate to the lyrics and Colin’s soulful and honest vocal.  Colin’s had two chart entries, “Will I Stay” (#8) and “Bulletproof Monster” (#12).  Listen to “The Fight Of My Life” below, as well as lending an ear to Colin’s affecting revox of Sky Ferreira’s “One”.

The last debut at #29 focuses on a retro new wave vibe, in a kind of Animotion-meets-Divinyls kind of way (and they would do a great version of the former’s hit “Obsession”, hint hint).   I’m talking about fun trio Liquid Diet, who have released a 3 song self-titled EP that puts ears foremost on “Hand Dance”, their ode to self-pleasure.  It’s kitschy for sure but not only instantly likeable but hard to get out of your head, and before you know it you’ll want more… And that must be why the duo also recorded a danceable cover-with-a-twist of George Michael’s “Father Figure”.  As with “Hand Dance”, vocalists Georgia and Billy trade off well and what sounds like it could have been a train wreck in principle actually works out just fine thank you.  The EP rounds out with “Nude”, which manages to name-check bloggers among a cast of thousands.  Watch the video for “Hand Dance” below and listen to “Father Figure” as well.

BILLCS Top 30 #372

Yeah I know it’s late for the first time but there are neither as many words nor much energy behind it this week.  Expect several videos 🙂

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.

“Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy continue with a tight grip at the top (video is at the bottom of the blog), with “Backseat” by Eric Saade (which I’m hoping will be the follow up to “Hotter Than Fire”, but I think it will be something a little lighter and less risque) as runner-up.  Joe Jonas climbs to #3 with “Make You Mine”, while gorgeous soul ballad “Home” by new UK singer Stone Walters is now at #4.  Listen to “Home” below.

Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” climbs to #9, while the cheery “Champagne” by Nelson Clemente becomes his fourth top tenner on my chart.  But it’s “Like A Drug” by Adam Tyler that makes a nice surge up to #7.  The snazzy video is below.

The mostly upwardly mobile songs in the teens are by Eric Saade, The Midway State, Lana Del Rey, Marianas Trench, and Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles, but they’re punctuated by some faster risers.  Joe Jonas once again has the fastest climber on the chart with “Not Right Now” from the Fastlife album at #15.  Right below is Adam Lambert’s “Better Than I Know Myself”, which has a really strong video that shows a softer, vulnerable side of Adam (below) – and I love the high notes in this song.  And “Something” by JMSN is both well worth hearing and watching ( below – you have already been warned in previous posts).  The talented Detroit singer climbs to #18 on the chart.

The newbies this week are almost all dance-oriented except for the one that leads the pack.  Graffiti 6 are on the rise, long after many bloggers have praised their glory over the last few years.  But “Free” is definitely the song to cut it for them, featuring a beautiful vocal from singer Jamie Scott.

Then we have at #22, M83 with “Midnight City”, a song that I’ve been listening to for quite a while now but now the melodic hook is completely entrenched in my brain.  I don’t usually mention covers in conjunction with a newly charted song or one on the rise, but I must say that the rendition by the much-praised The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee is a swift alternate version well worth checking out, with a free download on Soundcloud right here.

It’s nice to have the divine Nadia Ali back in the chart at #26, this time in the hands of producers Spencer & Hill.  “Believe It” has already had significant club play but it’s also great for blasting out the car window on a bad day.  Nadia has previously charted with #2 “Love Story” in 2009, plus of course as part of duo iio with “Rapture”, “At The End”, and “Smooth”.

Lastly, the Monsieur Adi remix of “Out Of It” by Fallulah is such a humdinger that it enters the chart at #27, and you can buy it on iTunes too!

Bill’s #1 song:  “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy