Quiet Power Works: Bullying Is the Theme of “Defined” by @RonanParke

RONAN PARKE, “Defined”

I just had a feeling after watching the preview for “Defined” last month that there is something big brewing very quietly here.  “Defined” is a beautiful and powerful song sung by 15 year old UK singer Ronan Parke, whose British audiences will know from appearing as an outstanding 12 year old contestant on X Factor.  Ronan has developed into quite a vocalist – I can picture him performing smoky cabaret as an adult, but that’s for another conversation.  His assured vocal blends so well with the storyboard about bullying, and definitely hits every emotional peg possible without being maudlin.  “Defined” also has the bonus of a co-writer in pop/R&B singer Pierre Lewis, who is well known to readers of this blog.  The video was made in conjunction with Kidscape, which is a charity that prevents bullying and protects children.  “Defined” is such a winner!!  Get it on iTunes.

Published in: on January 6, 2014 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More Long Players from FrankMusik and Pierre Lewis, Singles from Ivy Levan and Killian Wells featuring Kristinia DeBarge

This post starts off with new long players, somewhat ironically from two favourites of mine, who both happen to be 27 year old British singers! 🙂

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FRANKMUSIK  Between

Between is the result of the journey experienced by singer/songwriter/producer/everything-guy FrankMusik (Vincent Frank) when he found himself without a record label deal and without a fiancée.  We all experience ‘between’ times in our lives, and Vince’s songs document the aftermath of his situation.  This ultimately led him back home to England, writing some of his best (and most pungent) songs ever, releasing the album independently, and coming back to America for a club tour that is ending up being quite the road trip.  Upon release, Between immediately climbed into the Top 10 Electronics Albums chart on iTunes in most major countries!

Fans like me of his Far From Over free download EP released this past Spring will find that record’s best songs included – “Map” , “Captain”, and “Thank You” (as a hidden track).  They have all been reworked a bit, as has preceding single “Fast As I Can”, which sounds as if it’s been re-recorded.  By doing this, FrankMusik is simply upping his game, making these great songs sound even better to fit in with the tightly-produced and complex sounds of the other songs in Between.  Watch the behind-the-scenes video for current single “Chasing Shadows”:

But over to some of the new songs.  “Cake” is even more frenetic sounding (if that was possible) than the fierce “Captain”, and its many sound effects dazzle.  “Life (Is My Revenge)” is almost like FrankMusik’s new adage; there seems to be very little in the way to stop him and his music, and his fans are a huge part of the current road trip.  The lyrics are particularly biting but very juicy, and the result is exhilarating.  He brings down the pace with a beautiful duet with New York singer Cara Salimando, “How Do We Know” (she’s the gal in his video cover of M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls”), and a ballad of much needed fortitude, “Stronger”.  One of the best new songs is “Did Love”, which swings like we haven’t heard FrankMusik before, reminding me sometimes of Mika’s often brightly coloured songs, and featuring another gem of a vocal.

Between is a highly personal statement from FrankMusik that pulls you in and continues to make you wonder where he’s headed next.  As hinted at by Far From Over, it truly delivers and is one of the very best albums of 2013.

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PIERRE LEWIS  Consciousness

As readers of this blog know, I’ve been following the music of singer Pierre Lewis since I first stumbled upon the beautiful ballad “Broken” four years ago.  Since then he has released some consistently good R&B-flavoured pop songs.  So now a full length album Consciousness has arrived.  And if you listened to the preview of songs from it in recent weeks, you are not only going to be surprised, but mighty pleased too.

What I thought might be a ballad-heavy album – and yes there are ballads – turns out to be an extremely versatile and well-produced record that could easily hold a candle next to the latest by Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke.  And though I’ve mentioned both singers a few times in these pages of late, when I make those comparisons, I don’t make them lightly.  

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The opener “Selfish Little Girl” isn’t at all what I thought it was after a preview on Soundcloud (below), it is a melodic but cutting swing at a gal who just won’t grow up.  It’s followed by some genuinely bright pop in the form of a duet with Pierre’s protegé, Hungarian singer Szilvia (about whom you’ve also read in these pages), in what should eventually be a single from the album, “City Lights”, and the vocals are a complimentary force together.  “Evolution” takes on strutting R&B stylistics that remind me of Rod Stewart in his heyday, with a pretty explicit scenario rounding out one of the best songs on the record.  I wrote about “Empty” a while back, a pensive and forlorn soft song.  The two best ballads?  “Lay Your Heart” followed immediately by “Always”.  They are simply swoon-worthy.

Consciousness may seem on the surface to be an understated effort by a singer known for his smooth style and dazzling voice, particularly when it reaches those high notes.  Once you’re inside, its best songs will not let you go and the ballads will entice you.  Given time to unleash this quiet tiger of a record, I think Pierre Lewis has a winner and it should spread well beyond his already significant fan base.

IVY LEVAN “Hot Damn”

Nebraska-born, L.A. based Ivy Levan is causing quite a stir out of the box with her EP The Dame, and its initial single and video “Hot Damn”.  Her style is almost a conscious flip side of what we’ve heard over the last several years from British singers Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Florence Welch.  This is energetic, powerful pop from a new voice that can belt it out with the rest of them.  Plus Ivy has a unique visual appeal in the video for “Hot Damn”, which criss-crosses Marilyn Monroe and Madonna with someone like Geena Davis.  It makes for grand entertainment aurally and visually, and her style is highly contemporary yet very retro all the same.  If Cherrytree Records needs a small tip – put Ivy Levan on the same club bill as new fave Willy Moon and there will be a K.O. in the waiting.  

KILLIAN WELLS featuring KRISTINIA DeBARGE “Remix My Love”

Moving through different variations of dance pop is nothing new for L.A. singer/songwriter/producer/director Killian Wells, as he follows up songs as diverse as “Psycho” (from last year’s This Beat Is…Poptronik comp) and the boundary-shaker “STRFKR” with “Remix My Love”.  It’s as sunny and shiny as the brightest L.A. summer day, and he brings pal Kristinia DeBarge (she of 2009 smash “Goodbye”) into the fold for a duet that is as natural as it is fun.  The video, also directed by Killian, just shows the pair having a blast with colourful clothing and scenery changes.  What I like best about the song is that it doesn’t get too sugary sweet and stays in seamless pure pop mode.  Remixes abound on the single, available on iTunes, including a bouncy orangeFUZZZ Ibiza mix that clubs will adore.

Shiny New Pop II: Pet Shop Boys, FrankMusik, Eleven Past One, Anton Ewald, and Pierre Lewis

PET SHOP BOYS, “Vocal”

I don’t think I’ve been so excited to hear a Pet Shop Boys album in recent years than with their upcoming album Electric (due July 15).  “Axis” was a tantalizing mainly instrumental teaser, but “Vocal” is the real deal, the best PSB single since their Christmas 2009 cover/mashup of “Viva La Vida/Domino Dancing”, and I think we have to go back to sometime in the early 90’s to find a finer single by them (I know some of you perhaps would argue this).  Neil and Chris haven’t sound so inspired, and the truly heartfelt urgency of the lyrics (“this is my kind of music / they play it all night long / the feeling of the warmth around us is so strong”) sounds suspiciously like classic disco-era music lovers’ sentiments.  The younger generation of disco/dance/EDM will embrace this.  BRAVO.  “Vocal” is now available on iTunes.

FRANKMUSIK, “Walking On A Dream”

As FrankMusik writes his Facebook diary of his road trip experiences touring the USA, it’s obviously inspiring him to record music along the way.  Vince just doesn’t stop and we are the beneficiaries of his labours.  So he’s shared this impromptu recording of a cover of the Empire Of The Sun hit from a few years back overlooking a mountain scenery in Georgia – he didn’t even know the song before he recorded it.  Not only that but he brings it to a different and more simplified level that actually enhances the lyrics.  I’m very jealous of all you Americans who get to check out his show and hear his voice in such fine form as in this song.

ELEVEN PAST ONE, “The World Is Ours”

Finally!  A domestic (Canadian) release that actually takes its flavour from European pop!  Eleven Past One is a Canadian quintet, partially from Ontario and partially from New Brunswick.  Think of these lads as a variation of The Wanted playing their own instruments, but with flourishes of Swedish pop and good ol’ Canadian rock.  Lead singer Daniel Richter has a fantastic voice, and the song itself has more than enough crunch and bounce to make you want more.  Good on Warner Music Canada for signing this talented group.  Eleven Past One will be touring to support R5 and Zendaya this summer.

ANTON EWALD, “Can’t Hold Back”

Now that “Begging” has me hooked, I’ll probably be bringing you more songs from his new release, A.  “Can’t Hold Back” is the best kind of summer cotton candy out there, and it actually makes a good mix with the Eleven Past One song above.  This one brings it down midway though in an extremely sexy, soulful break.  The lyric video above features enough playful mugging that should help get word out about Anton Ewald around the world.  The potential here is truly immense.

PIERRE LEWIS, “Empty”

To coincide with the release of his new album Consciousness yesterday, UK singer Pierre posted “Empty”.  Based on the preview to the album which I posted last week, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect, and I must admit being a little taken aback by this raw and solemn sounding song.  The comparison that came to mind instantly, at least based on atmosphere and effect, was to the equally stark “Darkness” by Darren Hayes.  The feelings of hurt and solitude ring loud and clear through Pierre’s versatile voice, and it’s when those high notes hit that the song hits more than one nerve.  You can purchase Consciousness on iTunes.

MAY DAYS: Willy Moon’s album, Chromatone’s interview, Pierre Lewis’ preview, Bim’s video and demo, and Jeronimo’s B-side

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WILLY MOON  Here’s Willy Moon

London-based Kiwi Willy Moon knows a lot about creating a really big sounding, splashy, and stylish debut album.  Here’s Willy Moon finally dropped in my country this past week and it’s guaranteed to turn heads and open ears just like when you first heard breakout single “Yeah Yeah” on the iPod commercials.  Some of the 14 songs (including two bonus tracks) on the self-produced album were already released on his previous self-titled EP so the record as a whole isn’t all new.  It’s a mix of new originals plus 3 cover versions that channel 50s/60s basics – only one song within is longer than 3 minutes – through our contemporary technological sound machine.  Led by Willy’s exuberant vocals, the album works most of the time (only the R&B flavoured opener “Get Up (What You Need)” seems out of place), and as I heard in Austin in March, he can replicate the sound on stage.

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Willy’s originals often bask in the classic melodies of the past.  “Fire” is one of the standouts, recalling a song like “Heart Full Of Soul” by The Yardbirds in melody and style, but leaving a unique mark after you hear it.  “My Girl” sounds like Eddie Cochran and Brian Setzer (of the Stray Cats) together, with stylistic whomp courtesy perhaps of 80’s Robert Palmer sounds.  You could visualize hearing “I Wanna Be Your Man” in a 60’s Go-Go club if it didn’t have all of the modern trappings.  Covers of classics “I Put A Spell On You” and “Shakin'” (video below – my favourite version of the latter is the cover by The Blasters in the 80’s), as well as bonus song “Bang Bang” , can easily label Willy as a competitive interpreter.  Second bonus song “Oh Nikki Darling” (co-written and co-produced with Martin ‘Cherry Cherry Boom Boom’ Kierszenbaum) is short and haunting – a sequel to the Prince song of almost the same name, perhaps?

So you can hear where this is heading.  Here’s Willy Moon is definitely one of the year’s boldest debuts by a singer who aims to dazzle from the start.

CHROMATONE, “Fire” – plus an interview!

Chromatone is turning out to be one of 2013’s most promising talents to watch, after getting to know his music a bit last year.  It’s all a plan to lead up to an EP coming this Fall.  Be sure to watch the clip below courtesy of the new Nupe Vibes series.  It features a brand new Chromatone original, “Fire” in a stellar live-from-the-floor performance which just makes me realize how grand his voice will sound when in a studio with added production!  Plus we get to know the man who answers some well-presented questions and you get to find out why he’s so good at making music.  Dynamite stuff, cannot wait for more!!  Also check out the video for his cover of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” where he busts out some dance moves (and throws in some Gotye near the end for good measure).

PIERRE LEWIS, Consciousness (preview)

It’s been a while since we heard from UK pop-soul singer Pierre Lewis, who first came to my attention in huge style with his ballad “Broken” (#2 on my chart) in 2009.  Last year we heard his EP Transitions, featuring “Out Of My Mind”, as well as his duet with Kaya in a classic style on “When I Was Blind”.  His new album Consciousness drops next week, and there’s a rich blend of uptempo pop songs as well as softer R&B-influenced songs that so enchant his many women fans 🙂 There are bound to be a few surprises that you don’t hear in the preview below so you can count on me to bring you more very soon.

BIM, “Highlight” (The Barn Sessions video) and “Ghost” (demo)

One of last year’s releases often on repeat on my iPod Touch is Bim’s Lifelines EP.  The UK duo with whom you are well acquainted in this blog keeps taking their music to the next level in different ways.  So now we have “Highlight” (from Lifelines), in a performance video shot inside a barn, which finally gives you a visual of Rebecca and Denmark in what you would likely see in a concert setting.  It’s a passionate performance that brings life to the song that a creative music video can’t do justice.  Then, take a listen to the moving new song “Ghost”, in a pretty convincing demo format, and try to fathom why it shouldn’t be given a full release itself.

JERONIMO, “Fading Memories”

We’ve already been teased by Jeronimo, the Dutch singer with the highly recognizable voice, with an acoustic version of his upcoming single “Flying Solo”.  So then he actually records a video for the song that is the ‘B side’ to “Flying Solo”, “Fading Memories”, which is not only a great idea, but has probably turned out even better than expected!  The singer himself has such a fun personality and is a real cheerleader for having a good time.  So we get treated to both the serious side of Jeronimo in the performance part of the video (and we’ve already seen how well he does this in the videos for “Somebody Who Loves Me” and “Firefly”) for what is really a thoughtful song about moving on, and then the carefree side which appears to show him in historic sites in the Philippines.  To be honest, “Fading Memories” could/should be a single unto itself, it’s certainly a powerful enough song on its own.  This bodes very well for a full upcoming album of Jeronimo songs to follow up last year’s immensely entertaining One Kiss.

Published in: on May 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BILLCS Top 30 #376 – April 9/12 plus Stunning New Videos from Darren Hayes and Mark Foster/Kimbra/A-Trak

The new chart has another changeover at the top and four debuts, plus I have comments on two new videos in what will likely be my only blog post till the weekend.

Being a former college radio programmer, I have always been a huge supporter of independent music.  And while independently released music has appeared in my chart over the years, it wasn’t until around 2009 when the calibre and quantity of quality independent music appeared to dominate the commercial releases through major record labels.  So more than half of my current chart currently consists of independently released songs or ones that are not yet available in North America.

Advancing to the top therefore is the independent release of “Someday” by Toronto band River Tiber.  “Someday” is a song that slowly draws you in, basking in some great guitar work, and then takes you on a little journey that keeps you hanging in till singer Tommy Paxton-Beesley’s last breath at the end.  River Tiber also has a quieter more moody song in the Top 10 at #7 with “Symmetry”.  This one relies on a vocal climax followed by relaxing jazzy instrumentation and has an incredibly dreamy feel-good vibe.  Be sure to buy River Tiber’s From Now On album on iTunes.  You can view the videos for both songs by reading my comments about From Now On right here.

All eyes are on One Direction and The Wanted right now, but the latter’s “Glad You Came” has won me over and soars to #4 on my chart.  Ya gotta admit – everyone has their favourite boy-band songs.  For me, the last one that was special was the BT-produced “Pop” by N Sync, which got to the top of my chart for a month in 2001.  In addition to “Symmetry”, song on the rise in the lower Top 10 include “Something” by JMSN at #6 (the drums/percussion arrangement alone is outstanding), “Summer Is Over” by Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles at #8, and Colin Munroe’s magnificent “The Fight Of My Life”, featuring Pusha-T at #9.  I can’t wait for more from the talented Colin, including perhaps a video for this song?  Listen below.

The rest of the chart is jam-packed with great songs, some of which by all rights should be in my Top 10 if there wasn’t so much fantastic music out right now.  As M83’s “Midnight City” slides down the chart, the unique cover by The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee is the fastest riser, climbing 19-11 and about to pass the #10 peak of the original.  Nadia Ali is one of the busiest female singers in dance music today, and she lends her many talents to Spencer & Hill’s “Believe It” which ranks #12.  Ryan Star is about to embark on another tour in support of his upcoming album, led by the single “Stay Awhile”, which climbs to #13.  

“Could It Be Magic” by Elouise revives Barry Manilow and/or Take That via Donna Summer’s rendition at #15, followed by “Happiness” by Sam Sparro (making us anxiously wait for the Return To Paradise album) at #16, Foster The People’s “Call It What You Want” at #17 (which makes a great mix with Scissor Sisters’ “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'”), Kaya & Pierre Lewis’ beauty of a ballad “When I Was Blind” at #18, “Hand Dance” by that tantalizing teasing trio Liquid Diet at #19, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming”, the understated lead single from Tyler Hilton’s top notch Forget The Storm.  I’ll have my own review of Forget The Storm soon – I didn’t realize it until reading further about it, but Tyler released Forget The Storm through his own Hooptie Music label (whose name comes from Tyler’s song “When it Comes”).

Debuting in this edition though are four songs, the first of which you can view at the top of this blog post.

Rod Thomas under his Bright Light Bright Light moniker is a performer whose releases I always listen for since I first heard “A New Word To Say” more than two years ago.  “Waiting For The Feeling” is classic Bright Light x2 as Rod always finds those moments in time in-between everything and captures them beautifully in words and music.  His Make Me Believe In Hope is now due in June and I just can’t wait to hear it in full.  “Waiting For The Feeling” debuts at #23 and will undoubtedly join his best songs near the top of my chart very soon.

Next up is “Music Freak” by Adam Tyler from his Shattered Ice album.  As “Like A Drug” departs my chart (but is still in the midst of full-on promotion thanks to its compelling video), I’m adding “Music Freak” because over the several months since the release of Shattered Ice, the lyrics of this song have become increasingly important to me as a music fan.  Being a music freak myself, I can’t let it hide in the midst of several strong songs on the album, so “Music Freak” debuts at #24.  You can listen to it right here.

I’ve already posted blogs about the next two songs, but they bear repeating!  Keane has come out of the gate blazing with “Silenced By The Night” at #25, the first gorgeous single from the upcoming Strangeland album.  Watch the video below.  And lastly, Scotland’s Aerials Up is a talent to watch for with their independent release of “I Am” at #26 – video is posted again below.

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.

Darren Hayes “Stupid Mistake”

I got up this morning to find that Darren had posted his new video for “Stupid Mistake”, which I had heard was to be the fourth single from the singer’s fourth brilliant solo album Secret Codes And Battleships.  The video is captivating in its simplicity, which shows Darren alternately in stage make up or in the process of removing it.  In relationships whether we know it or not we all put on masks, which eventually get stripped away like make up.  And if you keep the mask on too long, then you lose yourself in your daily life which becomes a performance and ultimately will hurt the ones you love.  Watch it all the way through, it’s amazing!  Those of you who have had long-term relationships end will completely relate.

Mark Foster + Kimbra + A-Trak = “Warrior”

It’s a sly bit of promotion for Chuck Taylor Converse shoes and Journeys, but what a cool way to do it!  Who’d have ever thought Foster The People’s Mark Foster, New Zealand singer Kimbra, and Canadian DJ extraordinaire A-Trak would all get together for a project, let alone film a highly entertaining video?  “Warrior” is a must-view and listen, and could be a sneaky hit in the making for the trio.  I seriously wonder how many bruises were achieved during the making of the video.  I’m not into watching wrestling but the entire concept is spot on.  Best of all, you can download “Warrior”for free from the Journeys website right here.  Kudos to whoever planned this project – more please!

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.

Up-N-Comers featuring Kaya & Pierre Lewis, Kenneth Giles, Darin, Glo, Slakadeliqs & Justin Nozuka, River Tiber, and more

Life seems to go crazy all at once – work gets super busy, personal situations change, and of course in these blink-and-they’re-gone times, new music arrives en masse.  So before I know it, I’m saying “How am I gonna write about all of this great music?”.  So not to give short shrift to any of these fine songs and performers, but today’s Up-N-Comers blog post provides a succinct look/listen about songs and performers that require your attention 🙂

Kaya featuring Pierre Lewis “When I Was Blind”

I tipped you off to this beauty of a ballad a few weeks back, and “When I Was Blind” has officially arrived on iTunes today (February 11).  U.S. beauty Kaya and handsome UK R&B/pop singer Pierre could not sound better together.  The song is written in classic ballad style that you just don’t hear on the radio anymore.  And as a bonus, producer/remixer Florian Maier crunched the song into a dance rendition that even gets a little dub-steppy.  Hear the remix below and download it with an email subscription right here.

Kenneth Giles “Take It Easy”

Kenneth is an Irish singer, dancer and choreographer who has done well in his home country at a young age, already as a judge on Dublin’s Got Talent, performing in the domestic touring show of Glee, and running his own performing arts studio.  “Take It Easy” seems a little plain at the start, but its slinky mid-tempo vibe and chorus will find you humming the song when you least expect it.  This is a promising start and the video offers some eye-catching choreography too.  Get it on iTunes.

Darin “Nobody Knows”

It seemed back in 2008 that Swedish singer Darin Zanyar was Scandinavia’s equivalent of a Justin Timberlake-meets-Jesse McCartney talent, having had lots of Scandinavian success back to 2005.  Domestic and European hits like “Breathing Your Love” (featuring Kat DeLuna, from the Flashback album) and “Lovekiller” (from the 2010 album of the same name) brought his talent to the worldwide stage, showing that he can bridge both dance and pop worlds.  “Nobody Knows” puts him back square in dance club territory, with a song that not only slams but puts his high register to wonderful full use while still focusing on a beautiful melody.  It’s a well-rounded song that puts Darin more head-to-head with someone like Adam Lambert, and that’s not at all a bad thing!  Official release is coming soon… listen to the song below.

Glo, “Don’t Believe”

Montreal produces some of the best domestic rock music amid its reputation for top notch electronica.  Glo is a three piece whose album No One Hears Me drops this year.  Taking cues from bands like Keane and All American Rejects, but with a harder edge carrying the melody, “Don’t Believe” is a tidy and punchy single carried by singer Rick Cordi’s versatile voice.  It also has great pedigree with award-winning singer/producer John Nathaniel (Marie-Mai, Long Story Short) at the helm.  You can buy “Don’t Believe” on CD Baby or listen to right here.

Slakadeliqs featuring Justin Nozuka “Keep Breathing”

I previewed Slakadeliqs’ debut album The Other Side Of Tomorrow a while back with another song featuring the ultra-talented Justin called “Love Controls The Sun”, which is a lovely lazy Sunday morning slice of pop.  The other song from the album featuring Justin is “Keep Breathing”, a breezy mid-tempo jazzy-sounding song that reminds me a lot of the Style Council’s mid-80’s output.  Slakah the Beatchild and Justin get their groove on in the video below and it’s positively contagious.  You can download The Other Side Of Tomorrow or any of its songs for free from the Slakadeliqs’ website or you can buy it on iTunes.  Unique and diverse – don’t miss it.

River Tiber “Someday”

River Tiber is the band name for Toronto’s Tommy Paxton-Beesley, who is one of these burgeoning talents-all-in-one just bursting at the seams.  “Someday” shows all too apparent influence from the likes of U2 and Coldplay, with some fantastic guitar work, but there’s a really sweet Jeff Buckley-esque edge to this song that I find incredibly affecting with each listen.  This young man is going places.  Listen to “Someday” below and you can purchase River Tiber’s album From Now On on iTunes.

Feral aka Kinky “Tweet Retweet”

A case is being made for a recent dance music sub-genre called Moombahton, which appears to combine reggae, pop, and electronica.  If you’re interested in sampling this quirky style, check out Moombahton Nation on iTunes.  From that album, “Tweet Retweet” by Feral aka Kinky slices a bright, clubby melody with reggae-stylin’ vocals that draw you in – remember mid 2000’s hits like “Move Ya Body” by Nina Sky, “Never Leave You” by Lumidee, or “Pull Up” by Mr. Vegas”?  Take two steps forward from those records and tilt your head, remaining firmly on the dancefloor.  Listen to “Tweet Retweet” below.

Sintropez “Berlin Girl”

It’s not often these days that the dark post-new wave influences of groups like Depeche Mode or Sisters of Mercy rear their heads in new music.  But if you like that style, you’ll appreciate the lush and languid feel of “Berlin Girl” by Sintropez, a new three piece unit from France led by singer Will Katrine.  Listen below.

And just for fun, “Call Me Maybe” by Canada’s Carly Rae Jepsen (produced by Marianas Trench’s Josh Ramsay) has already reached #1 on Billboard’s Canadian Top 100 and is poised to break out internationally, given tweets of support by the likes of Selena Gomez.  It doesn’t need my thumbs up to help it succeed, but it’s got a great video, so watch below.

IT’S HERE: “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy – plus a promising new duet

Back on October 23, 2011, I wrote:

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

After a bit of a delay, “Memorize Me” has arrived with the video at the top of the blog.  I have never grown tired of the song since I first heard it and am thrilled that it will be released officially on January 23.  Like the song, the video is a true original.  The juxtaposition of the two young boys heading out for the day and filtering through a gay pride event and then a Rune RK concert is interesting.  One wishes that we could all be so carefree, untainted by opinion and bias, or go anywhere, and just have fun, as if we were kids.  It’s also interesting that Databoy lads Cameron and Adam appear as kind of onlookers inside of a television.  I had this idea of a video for this song that would have been an updated version of a-ha’s “Take On Me” video, using either a computer or TV as a backdrop… but I digress.  Be sure to get “Memorize Me” on Monday!!  I’ve now got to convince the two Eric Saade songs at the top of my personal chart to make some room in two weeks…

Below is a preview of a most promising duet!  It will be your first – but definitely not to be your last – listen to “When I Was Blind” by 18 year old American singer Kaya (featured recently in the Ballroom Remixed project), partnered with none other than UK sensation Pierre Lewis, who recorded one of my favourite ballads of recent years called “Broken” a few years back.  Be forewarned – it’s melt-worthy.

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Autumn Popervescence

We’re a month away from Winter, but Autumn Popervescence is still upon us!  And leading the highlights in advance of the new album due on November 30 is Eric Saade.  The 21 year old Swede has Saade Volume Two on deck and the wonderful folks at Scandipop are previewing songs from the album as they did with Volume One.  My initial favourites from the first album shifted once I heard the whole record, which is one of the very best of 2011.  So Volume Two has a high benchmark in front of it, but the songs are written mainly by the same team (Jason Gill/J-Son/Robin Fredriksson and Eric himself) which makes them seem like natural progressions from Volume One, particularly something like “Explosive Love”.  I’m hoping the domestic success of the killer “Hotter Than Fire” (featuring Dev) will morph into an international release for Eric.  Pop this good should not be divided by borders and record contracts!!  Listen to the previews on Scandipop right here.

Next up, British singer Gary Go dazzled us in 2009 with “Wonderful”, a song that anyone should listen to if they’re feeling down about themselves.  Then we heard from him again this past Spring as vocalist on Benny Benassi’s “Cinema”, a bit of a change of pace for Gary with the song being an out-and-out dance hit.  Now he’s about to release his new ‘soundtrack’ NWOTF, and to preview that record we have a re-invented version of “Cinema” featuring Carina Round that’s worth hearing because it’s so different from the Benassi version.  Download it for free with an email subscription right here.

I love me some house music that’s progressive and makes you think about what its creators might do next.  So if you like folks like Azari & III and Hot Chip, you should get to know Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, who have already remixed for the likes of Lady GaGa (“Marry The Night”).  The British duo are finding quite a lot of favour in their home country and have released the infectious “Dream On”, which you can get for a free download with subscription right here.

DJ Tatana (or Tatana Sterba) has been making vibrant dance music for a number of years now, and I know her best from her collaboration with Jael on “Always On My Mind” from 2004.  The Switzerland-based Tatana is back with an absolutely slamming and trance-y new song featuring Cherrytree Records’ own Natalia Kills called “You Can’t Get In My Head (If You Can’t Get In My Bed)”.  Watch out for the dubstep-oriented breakdown – best one I’ve heard since “Wicked Baby” by Ro Danishei & Simon Curtis!  Listen below.

New York hip hop trio The Corp Cartel has been making its presence known in its home town with the group’s Latin hip hop stylistics and performances.  One of the trio, Tana, has released a promising solo effort called “Live In The Past”.  The song benefits from a beautifully sweet featured vocal by fellow New York singer Baiyu, about whom I blogged about this past summer.  Listen to the song below and download it for free.

And now we arrive at the holiday season, with three new Christmas songs to whet your palate.

The Little Belter herself, Elouise, has upped the ante with one of the songs from her new EP on iTunes called Santa’s Little Belter.  I previewed her rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” last week.  Getting away from traditional songs, Elouise and her team looked back to the disco era for a song written by the late Paul Jabara (he won an Oscar for “Last Dance” by Donna Summer) called “Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man For Christmas)”.  So get on your dancing shoes and mix it in with “I Will Survive” and “It’s Raining Men” and your party guests will have a blast guaranteed.  Listen to the radio edit below – an extended version is available on the EP too.

UK R&B/Pop singer Pierre Lewis is working hard to bring you some more new music for full album release in 2012.  In the interim, he’s released a heart-warming holiday balled called “Main Street” that makes you feel good in all the right places.  Get it on iTunes and listen below.

Toronto’s Roz Bell has released some of the most interesting and ear-catching songs in recent years.  It all started with “Yesterday Man” and “Papercut” from his 2008 album The First Sunbeams, which was followed in 2009 by “Heart Attack” from his album October. His collaboration with 100 Akres on the intensely soulful “Pink Cadillac” to me is his best work to date and was the first free download song to reach #1 on my personal chart in 2009.  Roz is writing, writing, writing, and I’m sure we’ll see the fruits from his efforts in 2012.  This past week, he dropped a cheerful Christmas song that is spot on with its simplicity.  Download “Happy Holidays To You” for free right here and listen below.