@BadW0lfy (aka Ro Danishei) returns with funky and futuristic “Used 2 This”

BAD W0LFY, “Used 2 This”

The world needs more funky and fresh Bad W0lfy songs if “Used 2 This” is any indication.  The L.A.-based singer/songwriter and model otherwise known as Ro Danishei, and co-leader of the duo Wrathschild with Simon Curtis, has returned after 5 years after her End Of The Rainbow release.  “Used 2 This” is a real ear-grabbing solo song after 2014 saw the release of Wrathschild’s EP and last year a once-online cover of Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do”.  It’s a futuristic, bass-laden dance number that doesn’t quite sound like anything out there (remixers take note!).  The singer’s voice is completely on-point and suited to producer Ray Reich outside-of-the-box production which places a totally appropriate dubsteppy vocal break (you’ll think Erik Hassle’s “No Words” or Years & Years’ “Shine”) in the midst of it all.  To quote the esteemed Lady Kier of Deee-Lite,”Used 2 This” is definitely one de-groovy feast for the ears and feet.  Pick it up on iTunes.

Published in: on April 1, 2016 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Flying High with “Cosmonaut” by @Wrathschild from the New EP “Birds”

WRATHSCHILD, “Cosmonaut”

So very talented are the duo of Simon Curtis and Bad W0lfy (Ro Danishei) that they have continued last year’s electronica project Wrathschild, resulting in a seven song EP called Birds, which dropped this week on iTunes.  Included are the effervescent “Fall Into Love” and wistful “Angeles” from last year, plus 5 new songs including “Cosmonaut”.  

I’ve elected to focus on “Cosmonaut” because it is easily the most mesmerizing and enticing song that the pair have either recorded together or separately, starting with an operatic-sounding intro that throws back to Simon’s “Beat Drop”.   “Cosmonaut” draws you in by including themes common in both Simon’s 8bit Heart mixtape and W0lfy’s album End Of The Rainbow – loneliness, needing to be loved, escape, fantasy, and being empowered to stick with it all – carefully reinvented to capture fans’ hearts all over again.  W0lfy’s powerhouse vocal commands the proceedings while Simon uses both higher range and spoken voice to anchor key parts of the song, and then they harmonize gorgeously as always.  

The production by Ray Reich on “Cosmonaut” is lush and subtle, full of WOW moments – like Simon’s introduction into the song after the minute mark that to me is a star-turning move – and will keep your ears mesmerized.  

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Less Is Waaay More in @BadW0lfy’s Cover of @EllieGoulding’s “Love Me Like You Do”

BAD W0LFY, “Love Me Like You Do”

I’ve definitely missed Bad W0lfy’s solo songs, although she (aka Ro Danishei) has been part of the wonderful and promising duo Wrathschild with Simon Curtis, releasing two singles last year.  The pair sounds just great together or separate, and W0lfy’s followed that up with her cover of Ellie Goulding’s #1 UK hit “Love Me Like You Do” from the forthcoming film “50 Shades Of Grey”.  While Ellie’s is trademarked with her distinct vocal and a massive arrangement that will undoubtedly make it a centerpiece for the film, W0lfy’s rendition is a bit of a rebirth that pulls it back to showcase her voice with a simple arrangement.  The results sounds so beautiful and effortless that we fans of her 2011 album End Of The Rainbow are going to want much more soon!  While I loved the intense electronica of Rainbow, the showcase on “Love Me Like You Do” would only make me embrace a more stripped back setting, not unlike my favourite singers of the moment such as Sam Smith and Jessie Ware.  Watch the video above and download “Love Me Like You Do” for free at the Soundcloud link  below.

A Joyful Celebration: “Fall Into Love” by @Wrathschild (video)

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WRATHSCHILD, “Fall Into Love (video)

I’ve already written about (and charted) “Fall Into Love” by Wrathschild, the new name for the duo of Simon Curtis and Wolfy (Ro Danishei).  Their slightly sci-fi themed video for the song arrived on Friday and it’s a joyful celebration of being carefree while falling in love.  The duo and their director have captured this beautifully with bright colours (pink, for sure), some truly natural smiles in happy close-ups, the beach, playing games, Wolfy in fur (yeah in L.A., but that’s normal 😉 ), and Simon in a comfy unique onesie (stop the frame and take a look at the buttons he’s wearing too).  Huge props to all involved for deciding to make a feel good song and video.  There is a reason why Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is #1 around the world and Wrathschild taps into that vibe.

Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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BILLCS Top 30 #428 – April 7/14

Dance music rules the ascending songs on my new personal charts, while some striking new pure pop songs debut 🙂

The Top 10

All but one of our songs in the Top 10 move up, and that’s because the only song that moves down was #1 two weeks ago…

  • The irresistible house banger collaboration of Showtek & Justin Prime with Matthew Koma, a reworking of last year’s instrumental “Cannonball” with Koma vocals and lyrics on “Cannonball (Earthquake)” (video up top) grabs #1!  The rest of my active Top 10 however responds to their catch line of ‘Show us what you got / When the m***erfuckin’ beat drops’… It’s also Matthew Koma’s 4th #1 entry, following “Spectrum”, “Parachute”, and “1998”.
  • It looks like “Addicted To You” by Avicii featuring the unbilled Audra Mae is smashing it worldwide too.  It rises to #3 and watch the new video for it below.
  • Ascending into the Top 5 are “Find You” (6-4), which has cracked the Top 40 for Zedd, Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant, and Adam Tyler’s poptastic free download “Electric Valentine” (7-5), becoming the singer’s 3rd Top 5er on my chart 🙂
  • Sam Smith’s “Money On My Mind” gives way and falls from first to second place, but his entry with Disclosure, the affecting “Latch”, has its eyes on the top of the chart, moving 10-6.
  • The third and last Matthew Koma entry remains in the Top 10 – it’s Hardwell’s “Dare You” up 9-7.
  • The three new entries to the Top 10 breakaway from the log jam on the last chart:  John Newman’s “Love Me Again” climbs 13-8, with Nick Hagelin’s “Finest Clothes In Town” catching fire 14-9, and Disclosure x2, featuring Mary J. Blige on the redone “F For You” at #10.  Listen/watch the latter two below.

Also On The Rise

  • San Diego’s Convulsic brings his inventive EDM/dubstep game with “Love Space” climbing 17-12, with more to come from this talented newcomer.
  • Right behind is Martin Garrix, whose free download of  EDM/trap song “Proxy” is on fire, and packs a wallop on the chart, moving 23-13 as the fastest riser 🙂
  • Semi-Precious Weapons’ “Drink” moves 15-14 behind some heavier songs now, but the band recently released its lyric video to “Look To The Stars” as their full album is on deck for release.  Watch below.
  • Jason Derulo has apparently only teased us with his Tattoos EP, so a full album called Talk Dirty will be coming soon.  While the title song is a lot of fun and climbs 22-18, I’m hoping the new album continues along the lines of some of his pop successes too like “Whatcha Say” or “In My Head”.
  • And talking dirty and “Horny” seem to fall hand-in-hand on this chart, so Lonnie Gordon’s could-be dance club hit moves up 24-20.
  • Sandwiched rather adroitly in-between, “I Wish We Were Leaving” by Bright Light Bright Light and Elton John climb 25-19 while BLx2’s EP of the same name arrived today on iTunes with two remixes of “I Wish”.  Also give a listen to a new song on the EP “She Carves Her Desire” below.
  • FrankMusik continues with his prolific releases in anticipation of his full album called By Nicole.  His opening single “Dear Nicole” advances 28-24, while the video for a new song “These Streets”, with an interesting mix of jaunty melody and affecting lyrics, arrived this past week.  Watch below.

Debuts!!

  • I cannot get enough of Sam Smith, cannot wait to see his show on April 23, and thoroughly enjoyed his two performances on Saturday Night Live.  One of these was for the R&B-flavoured ballad “Stay With Me”, and this stunner bows at #21, from his upcoming In The Lonely Hour album, not due till June (but maybe Capitol/Universal will move it up on the sked…).
  • It’s already caused a stir online, and if you’ve been in hiding then you’ve missed the new project brought to us by Simon Curtis and Wolfy (Ro Danishei) called Wrathschild.  “Fall Into Love” is a gorgeous pure pop testament to those feelings when you’re on that cusp, and it arrives at #22.  And with the pair’s already fine chart pedigree – Simon with 5 #1’s, Wolfy with one of those plus another Top 10er – “Fall Into Love” will do very, very well.
  • It appears we’re on another roll in the boy band genre, but this time with guys who play their music as well as sing it.  England’s Rixton has “Me And My Broken Heart” at #26, and like Martin Garrix, has Scooter Braun management in their court.  Then there’s Australia’s 5 Seconds Of Summer with the extremely fun, catchy “She Looks So Perfect” nabbing #1 in the UK last week and premiering on my chart at #27.

The Full Chart

Listen to the songs or watch the videos using the links on the pictures on the pretty and detailed web edition of my chart.

02 01 CANNONBALL (EARTHQUAKE) Showtek & Justin Prime featuring Matthew Koma
01 02 MONEY ON MY MIND Sam Smith
04 03 ADDICTED TO YOU Avicii featuring Audra Mae
06 04 FIND YOU Zedd featuring Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant
07 05 ELECTRIC VALENTINE Adam Tyler
10 06 LATCH Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
09 07 DARE YOU Hardwell featuring Matthew Koma
13 08 LOVE ME AGAIN John Newman
14 09 FINEST CLOTHES IN TOWN Nick Hagelin
12 10 F FOR YOU Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
03 11 TAKE COVER Neverest
17 12 LOVE SPACE Convulsic
23 13 PROXY Martin Garrix
15 14 DRINK Semi-Precious Weapons
05 15 COLLIDE Jake Miller
19 16 READY FOR YOU NOW Sean O’Reilly
20 17 BACK TO CALIFORNIA Steve Grand
22 18 TALK DIRTY Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz
25 19 I WISH WE WERE LEAVING Bright Light Bright Light & Elton John
24 20 HORNY Lonnie Gordon
New 21 STAY WITH ME Sam Smith
New 22 FALL INTO LOVE Wrathschild 
11 23 INTO THE BLUE Kylie Minogue
28 24 DEAR NICOLE FrankMusik
08 25 HAPPY Pharrell Williams
New 26 ME AND MY BROKEN HEART Rixton
New 27 SHE LOOKS SO PERFECT 5 Seconds Of Summer
16 28 MOTEL POOL Travis Garland
21 29 INVISIBLE U2
27 30 MANiCURE Lady GaGa

 

 

Feel The Power and “Fall Into Love” with @Wrathschild

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WRATHSCHILD, “Fall Into Love” (click on this link to listen)

As brought to you through Billboard today, “Fall Into Love” is indeed a lush and powerful affair from the duo otherwise known as Simon Curtis and Wolfy.  It’s the happiest marriage of the talents of the best of friends – both have power and attack in their voices, but are so different that they compliment each other enormously, as we heard previously in very different duets on “Michelle” or “Wicked Baby”.  Wolfy’s voice has also grown since the songs from her End Of The Rainbow album.  The emotional qualities of the song echo back to anything that hit a chord with you from Simon’s 8bit Heart release, after all everybody has a favourite 80’s movie, right?  “Fall Into Love” also has some similarities to Simon’s more recent “Heart In 2” or “Diamonds On The Dance Floor” but more pop-focused than electronica.  Overall the song hits every mark to keep your head bobbing and ears tuned in, right through an almost tribal-sounding breakdown that gets reeled back in towards the end.  While I think “Fall Into Love” will become a signature song for Wrathschild, I’m confident that the best is yet to come from Simon and Wolfy.  “Fall Into Love” comes to you on March 31 with a long-awaited video to follow in April.

Published in: on March 24, 2014 at 9:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Tease Us First Then “Fall Into Love” with @Wrathschild

WRATHSCHILD, “Fall Into Love” (teaser)

So we found out yesterday that the new project that L.A.-based singer Simon Curtis (8bit Heart, the Billboard-charting R∆) had been working on for the last while is in fact a duo, Wrathschild, with his great friend Wolfy Jones (Ro Danishei).  The teaser impresses with a big lush sound.  This pair did some great underrated work on Ro’s 2011 album End Of The Rainbow… find out about the whole story and song on Monday March 24 at http://www.billboard.com 🙂  Video to follow… spread the news!

Published in: on March 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bill’s Top 75 Songs of 2011

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

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

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin 🙂

BILL’S TOP 75 SONGS OF 2011

75 TILL THE WORLD ENDS  Britney Spears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

57 KEEP YOUR HEAD UP  Andy Grammer

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

56 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE  Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi

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

55 TAINTED LOVE  Elouise

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

53 NEVER LOVE A DJ  Kyle Brylin

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33 FIX ME  Matthew Kurz

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

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

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

30 SUPERHERO  Simon Curtis

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

29 STUPID (Brad Walsh remix)  Databoy

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

28 I WON’T LET YOU GO   Adam Tyler

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


27 MICHELLE  Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

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

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

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

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


23 BLOODSTAINED HEART  Darren Hayes

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

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

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

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

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


19 OUT WITHOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND  Jerry Reid featuring Ben Waters

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

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


17 HURT YOU AGAIN Frankmusik

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

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

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

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

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


12 LOVE 2 BABY Christian TV

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


11 NO I.D. Frankmusik featuring Colette Carr

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


10 MADE OF POP  Eric Saade

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

9 ROLLING IN THE DEEP  Adele

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


8 NIGHT AIR  Jamie Woon

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


7 THE FEAR INSIDE  Frankmusik

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

6 GOLDEN TRAIN Penguin Prison

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

5 LASER GUNS UP  Simon Curtis

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

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

3 WICKED BABY Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis

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

2 FLESH  Simon Curtis

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

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


And Visions Of 2011 Danced In His Head…

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

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

The Script

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

Jamie Woon

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

The Midway State

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

Jon McLaughlin

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

Adam Cohen

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

Jessica 6

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

Ballroom Remixed

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

Bright Light Bright Light

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

Adam Tyler,  Kyle Brylin, and Nick Hagelin

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

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

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

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

Erasure

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

Ro Danishei

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

Lady GaGa

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

Adele

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

Darren Hayes

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

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

Elouise

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

Penguin Prison

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

Simon Curtis

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

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

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

Frankmusik

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

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

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

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

Eric Saade

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

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

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

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

Tuned-On! Top 30 #363 – October 10/11

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

So something will likely give at the top of the chart in two weeks, and you can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right here.  You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.  But for now it continues to be “Wicked Baby” by Ro Danishei and Simon Curtis at the top but virtually neck and neck with Simon’s own “Laser Guns Up” in second place.  Rumour has it that Ro is now signed to Sony BMG – fantastic! – but I’m not sure of details, and I’m sure they will be forthcoming at some point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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