Wicked New Music from Ro & Simon, Frankmusik, Jerry Reid, Long Story Short, The Midway State

Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis “Wicked Baby”

Can’t.Get.It.Out.Of.My.Head.  I love it when a song does that to me.  But I didn’t expect that it would be this one.  There’s a perception sometimes that only throwaway songs that didn’t make the cut the first time are added on to records which have already been released.  But when an album is being put on iTunes after being available for free for most of the year, those songs had better be good, DAMN good, to change that perception.  And I even tipped you off to this one earlier (in June).  

So one of the completely unanticipated and precious gems of 2011 belongs to singer Ro Danishei with “Wicked Baby” from the ‘deluxe’ edition of End Of The Rainbow, the original version about which I blogged earlier in the year, complete with five new tracks (two new songs and three remixes, including two killer remixes of “Blackout”, by Paul Hetherington and producer Jeff “Jadion” Wells).  And while I’ve been wrapped up with songs like “Prey To The Beat”, “Drunk Txt”, and “Michelle” throughout the year, it’s her new duet with Simon Curtis (who also collaborated on “Michelle”) that now really brings the power of this record home.  

While “Michelle” was filled with high energy and anger, “Wicked Baby” is pure sizzle and joy.  It revels in reggae-tinged late 80’s and early 90’s pop which screams Sweden!!! and in particular Ace of Base’s worldwide hits.  But the real ear-opener in this song is the 18 second vocal break in which producer Jadion contemporizes the style and finishes it off in party central.  

For a smashing review that took many of my words out of my head before I could write them 😉 check out My Fizzy Pop.  I’ve run out of superlatives for “Wicked Baby”, so you’ll just have to listen to the song below and watch for my new chart on the weekend to see where it places!

Frankmusik “When I Start (To Break It All Down)” Erasure cover

Last week became a week when a performer’s worst fears come to life.  Fortunately one of the most versatile performers around, Frankmusik, had already recorded “The Fear Inside” late last year, and the theme of that song served to counter whoever so cruelly decided to leak music from his forthcoming album Do It In The A.M. (due September 27).  

Frank fought back – with incredibly cool, quickly recorded songs that he made available for free download – and fans (and particularly a bunch of NEW fans I’m sure) reaped the benefits.  He also previewed songs from the album at various blog sites, including the full version of his choice pairing with newcomer and labelmate Colette Carr, “No I.D.”, which you can hear at Arjan Writes’ blog right here.

So because Frankmusik produced the upcoming Erasure album Tomorrow’s World, and is opening for them on their North American tour, I’ve chosen to post his spot-on cover below of their new single “When I Start (To Break It All Down)”.  You may not know it, but 2011 is the year of Frankmusik…

Jerry Reid previews his new album

You first met Detroit’s Jerry Reid through the sensational Ballroom Remixed project this past Spring, when he gave the Jive some bad boy R&R style on “Out Without Your Boyfriend”, powered by Ben Waters’ zinging keys.  And you’ll get a chance to hear a Ricardo Autobahn remix with the release of the forthcoming Less Ballroom, More Remixed.  Jerry gets to show his stuff on his upcoming album, which is previewing on his website through six songs at Jerry Reid Online.  These are pretty tasty tunes, throwing you back into the late 80’s where you might swear that Jerry could cover songs by both INXS and Tommy Page in the same breath.  The rollicking “Radar” is mighty ear-catching, while “Young Wolves” I would say is simply Michael Hutchence-exy.  Songs like “The Drive” help spell out the unique charm of Jerry Reid.

Long Story Short “Girl Without A Name”

I’ve been talking up the merits of duo Long Story Short for a good part of the year since I met Daniel Luka and Nicky James back in February, and told you about their debut album What A Scene.  The deluxe version of What A Scene will be on iTunes very soon, and will include their latest single “Girl Without A Name”, which is also available on iTunes.  The song follows in the uptempo rock vein of their free download “Venom” (currently #7 on my personal chart, and it will also be included in What A Scene), but with a much more lilting and lyrical style as well as a genial melody, that climaxes with shiny strings as it rocks to a close.  So like with Ro Danishei’s “Wicked Baby”, saving some great songs to complement an already very good album is fine strategy indeed.

The Midway State “Run To You” Bryan Adams cover

If you live in Canada, you can’t watch the CBC without seeing a commercial for the show “Camelot”, and hearing a clip of The Midway State’s rendition of “Run To You”, a classic international hit from 1985 by Canada’s Bryan Adams.  The quartet previewed this song when the CBC was promoting their “Cover Me Canada” show – and quickly demonstrated how to revamp a song and make it your own.  The band had already proven this in the past when they performed with no less than Lady GaGa on a duet of Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”, as well as with their version of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” right after he passed away.  That “Run To You” is taking on a life of its own while The Midway State promote their sophomore record Paris Or India is a testament to their exemplary choices of songs.  I’m still trying to latch on to some key songs from the well produced and thoughtful songs on Paris Or India, so until I’m ready to write about that, this cover of one of my favourite all-time Canadian songs will fare just nicely.

Summer Popervescence #1 featuring the Tuned-On! Top 30 #357 – July 18/11

It’s been two weeks since we’ve written, so this time you get a longer two-fer blog:  A new personal chart with commentary, and hot new music courtesy of Summer Popervescence #1.  A lot of the latter music is creating some strife on the chart, causing an absolute glut of wonderful music.  I’m loving it!

Tuned-On! Top 30 #357 – July 18/11

The Top 4 songs remain unchanged and seemingly unmovable.  “Flesh” by Simon Curtis and “Do It In The A.M.” by Frankmusik featuring Far East Movement rank #1 and #2 for third appearances each (6 weeks).  “I’m in Love” by Christian TV ranks 3rd as his latest single, the R&B-oriented “Girl I Used To Know” is released.  “Out Without Your Boyfriend” by Jerry Reid stays at #4 as interest in the Ballroom Remixed project from which it comes continues to grow.  “Talk Talk Talk” by Darren Hayes climbs 7-5 as the singer continues to promote the record in Australia.  I’m waiting for my purple vinyl copy of the single in the mail 😀  View his performance on Australia’s “Dancing with the Stars” below (gosh, I adore Australian accents).

New to the Top 10 are “Just Once” by Databoy, a true summer song if there was one, which really makes its presence felt, zooming 14-6 to challenge those equally excellent songs in the Top 5!  It’s so obvious that Lady GaGa has set a standard over the last three years for female vocalists with powerful voices.  They are prevalent on the chart this week, so it’s fitting the Lady herself has another Top Tenner with “The Edge Of Glory” at #9.  And Chris Brown lands in the Top 10 for the first time since 2008 with his feelgood Benny Benassi collabo “Beautiful People” at #10.

Recent additions to the chart from the past few weeks continue to move up nicely.  “Venom” by Long Story Short is Top 10 bound in two weeks as it climbs to #11.  “The Lover’s Rumba”, Elouise’s contribution to the Ballroom Remixed album, jumps 19-15.  The fastest riser on the chart is the other, more laid back, summer confection, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, which is getting its slow burn groove on with more people each week.  It soars 27-16 on the chart.  Three other powerful female vocalists are right below… “We Don’t Miss A Beat” by Van Go Lion, featuring Amy Paige, is at #17; “Prey To The Beat”, the secret loaded weapon in Ro Danishei’s End Of The Rainbow album, charges up 28-18; Nicola Roberts’ “Porcelain Heart” is up to #19 and will continue to rise in two weeks; similarly “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera climbs to #20 and continues to build.

Five more debuts on the chart means five more songs to adore.

How does one follow such a magnetic song as Eric Saade’s “Popular”?  Well, with an incredibly solid Saade Volume One album, which is full of truly happy-go-lucky pop from the Swedish singer who has some great people behind-the-scenes in his court.  The album is a dazzler, an aural equivalent to Baked Alaska (ice cream baked in meringue) with peach and raspberry sauce!!  At its best, Volume One is all cute and endearing… but with loads of power and know-how to support it all.  Hence we have Eric the geek in “Stupid With You”, Eric the lonely retro romantic in “Me and My Radio”, and best of all, Eric Pop Personified with “Made Of Pop” (you can hear the song at the top of the page).  “Made Of Pop” is a much more logical follow up to “Popular” than the weak-ish “Hearts In The Air”, so I hope it will be the third single.  It has one of my favourite verses of the year:  “My kings and queens are speaking through me / Got my degree in the big POP”.  Single-handedly with these words has Eric given a huge shout-out to his fans – not unlike Simon Curtis with “Get In Line”, and Eric and Simon NEED to record and sing in concert together!! – and declared himself triumphant. Brilliant.  And speaking of brilliant, you can read a much more in-depth review of Saade Volume One by MyFizzyPop.  I’m not about to repeat so much of what he says so well 🙂

Next up at #24 is the Shook remix of Penguin Prison’s “Multi-Millionaire” about which I wrote previously.  Penguin Prison has happily joined the Scissor Sisters and a number of other artists on Downtown Records for the release of the PP self-titled record and new single “Fair Warning”.  But in the meantime, the Prince-ly influenced “Multi-Millionaire” will kick off the anticipation in advance.  Then at #25 we have “Runway”, the highly emotional single from singer/music exec Blue Hamilton.  I’m posting the video clip once again below so that you can all have a good cry.  We first heard New Yorker Wynter Gordon on Flo Rida’s Top 5 hit “Sugar” back in 2009.  In the meantime she co-wrote several songs for the Love? album by Jennifer Lopez and has seen her first album With The Music I Die become a massive hit in Australia – which makes two U.S. artists on this chart to have success Down Under (the other is Foster The People).  So while North America only gets an EP version of With The Music I Die, the song “‘Til Death” (which contains the title’s lyrics) arrives on my chart at #26 (video below).  Fellow New Yorker and star of the Broadway play “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” Reeve Carney climbs onto the chart at #27 with “Rise Above 1”, his inspiring collaboration with “Spider-Man” songwriters Bono and The Edge.  Reeve is previously known for his work with his band Carney, which has released both a live album and a studio album to date and continues to perform throughout Reeve’s success with “Spider-Man”.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right here.  Be sure to leave any comments you might have, and thanks for reading :)

Note that when you click on the pictures in the first column of the chart pages that they will now allow you to either listen to the song or view the official video to the song.  Enjoy this new feature!

“Runway” by Blue Hamilton

“‘Til Death” by Wynter Gordon

Summer Popervescence #1

“I Won’t Let You Go” by Adam Tyler

It would not be Summer ’11 without the long-awaited arrival of the video for L.A. singer Adam Tyler’s “I Won’t Let You Go”.  It’s a visually stunning positive pastiche of images of handsome Adam in various appearances and hairstyles (and paint) which make it incredibly memorable.  That the song is also a stunner makes it a winning combination, it’s one of my favourites of the year, having already peaked at #5 this past Spring.  Watch the video below and purchase the song on iTunes.

“Bad Girl” by Matt Webb

I love how Matt Webb is carving out his own mark from Marianas Trench with his enjoyable EP Coda and Jacket.  His track “Cinnamon” is already #7 on my chart.  I don’t like the current single “Bad Girl” as much, but the video is enjoyable in the same way as… well,  “Misery” by Maroon 5.  Check it out below.

“My Name Is Kay” by Kay

It may be a little samey to The Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name” but Canadian singer Kay’s “My Name Is Kay” has a whole other smashing funky bassline side that speaks for it alongside her Britney-ish delivery when she’s not rap/singing.  Watch the video below.

“Atlantis” by The Midway State

I previously wrote about this first single from the Toronto quartet’s upcoming album Paris Or India.  The video for this jubilant and ethereal song below has also surfaced in advance of the album.  The band will be performing at the Toronto Festival of Beer on August 5.  “Atlantis” has done well enough as a lead up but I think the best new songs from The Midway State will be heard on the album.

“The Story of Us” by Nick Hagelin

I continue to be so impressed by Atlanta-based singer Nick Hagelin and the careful choice of cover songs for which he has been posting videos.  The latest is a simply delightful rendition of Taylor Swift’s latest hit “The Story Of Us” (video below).  This just goes to say that Nick Hagelin needs a record released soon along with a DVD that might include some of these enjoyable videos.  Nick is a star just waiting to happen.

Rune RK & Databoy “Memorize Me” (teaser)

What would the summer be without an Ibiza-styled dance anthem?  And what a great pairing – Rune RK (you’ll remember his “Calabria”, famously redone twice in 2007/08, once by Alex Gaudino featuring Crystal Waters as “Destination Calabria”, and then as “Calabria 2008” by Enur featuring Natasja) – and US duo Databoy, who’ve been gracing my chart with “Stupid” and “Just Once”.  Get teased below.

And finally, we have four more videos by artists who appear on the Ballroom Remixed album, along with charting songs by Jerry Reid, Simon Curtis, and Elouise.

Dutch talent Jeromino sings about “How They Dance In Outer Space” on Ballroom Remixed.  To completely get away from the novelty of that song, he’s released “Renaissance Man” which not only shows his diversity but how much the camera just loves him as well.

New York self-professed theatre nerd Joshua Desjardins gave us executive producer Melanie La Patin’s namesake theme song on Ballroom Remixed.  So how does he follow it up?  With “I’m A Nerd” of course!  This is what could happen if a Weird Al Yankovic song got dunked in Europop (think Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” or Dan Balan’s “Crazy Loop”).  Joshua’s spot-on delivery makes geekdom seem way more than okay!  Hear the song below and get your inner nerd on.

German singer Linda Teodosiu offered up the steamy “Body Heat” on Ballroom Remixed.  Her latest single, which has a good chance to follow the worldwide success of her 2009 hit “Reprogram My Heart”, is “Alive”.  It’s a slinky mid-evening dance number partnered nicely with Linda’s soaring voice.

Lastly, for a very recent glimpse at Simon Curtis singing at his acoustic best, watch the clip below of Simon singing “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone” (from 8bit Heart) and support his sick kids charity 100 Million Miracles ( a reminder that Simon is a cancer survivor).

Okay – are your ears full enough now? 🙂

It’s Time for Spring Popervescence!

There’s so much great new music to talk about that it’s difficult to know where to begin.  So here goes…

“Another Dimension” by Bass Robbers
featuring Matt Blue


Dutch producers Bass Robbers have released “Another Dimension”, a hooky but uncomplicated new house track that should be a delight for the dance floor.  What makes this song special is the vocal from fellow Dutchman 18 year old Matt Blue, who was featured on this blog back in February with his sparkling cover of Jason Derulo’s “What If”.  The vocal not only has loads of personality but at the :54 mark, Matt’s powerful voice lifts the song way into orbit somewhere for 19 seconds, which is enough time to make my jaw drop to the floor and stay there for a while.  Listen to the track below and be sure to purchase it on iTunes.  This is only the beginning for Matt Blue, who is one to watch in 2011!  Great work Bass Robbers 🙂

“Tainted Love” by Elouise


Elouise’s show “Little Belter” had its latest production in London on April 17.  I had been dying to hear her rendition of “Tainted Love”, perhaps expecting something a little campy or slinky.  But I should have known better – the songs in “Little Belter” are class acts, and what Elouise and producer Steve Anderson have done to “Tainted Love” is nothing short of phenomenal.  Stripped away is the sleaze of the 80’s Soft Cell version.  It’s been replaced by sultry and saucy at the start, and then some unexpected empowerment later in the song.  You have to hear it to believe it.  Do I foresee a North American tour of “Little Belter” in the future?  I sure hope so!

“Do It In The AM” by Frankmusik
featuring Far East Movement

There it is, the cover art to Frankmusik’s upcoming single “Do It In The A.M.” from the album of the same name.  And below you can hear this irresistible track, which features not only an amazing lyrical hook (the melody reminds me of another song whose title I have yet to place) but yet another fantastic vocal from Vince.  I think the song will be a wake up track for many people in the months to come (it’ll make a great ringtone!)… I’m still adoring both “The Fear Inside” and “Hurt You Again” right now but my playlist will definitely make room so I can do it in the a.m. 🙂  You will have the single on iTunes on May 4.  I’m also enjoying the Les Loups Funkstep remix.

“Body Moves” (Prince Vince remix) by Van Go Lion


Van Go Lion is a Portland, Oregon duo comprising co-songwriters Amy Paige (vocals) and Josh Loerzel, and they specialize in upbeat lyrical electropop.  They’re brought to us by the same wonderful folks who have given us songs by Kyle Brylin and Adam Tyler – Ninthwave Records.  “Body Moves” will keep you glued to some inspirational dancing while Amy’s vocal (which has Annie Lennox undertones) tantalizes you with ear candy.  This is one dance track where the sum of all of its many influences creates a unique and contemporary experience.  Hear the remix below and buy the original on iTunes.

“Atlantic” by The Midway State

Here’s your first taste of The Midway State’s upcoming album Paris or India called “Atlantic”.  The Toronto-based quartet adds a more uptempo variation to their lyrical, emotional rock that won over many fans with “Never Again” and “Change For You” from their debut album Holes two years back.  I’m definitely looking forward to the full album and more concert dates from these guys.  You can purchase “Atlantic” on iTunes.

“Bad Girl” by Matt Webb

By day, Matt Webb is erstwhile guitarist for Canadian rock stars Marianas Trench, who are currently experiencing some success in the U.S. with their 2009 Masterpiece Theatre album.  But by night he transforms into pop star Matt Webb, who has just released his debut solo single “Bad Girl”.  This is one catchy piece of business that will introduce Matt to another audience within the pop/rock spectrum.  It sounds like a throwback to a lot of early 80’s pop tunes like Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride” or other artists like Huey Lewis & The News.  Get it on iTunes and hear it below.

“What I Want” by Jon McLaughlin

You know him from “Beautiful Disaster”, “Beating My Heart” (my very favourite song of 2008), and a featured part in the film “Enchanted”, which netted him an appearance on the Oscars singing the nominated song “So Close”.  Two years or so later, and Indiana’s Jon McLaughlin is back with chipper anthemic piano-led pop/rock in the form of “What I Want” from his upcoming album.  You can get this one through an email subscription to Jon’s newsletter at his website, but you can give a listen below.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a song or two but will make up for that within the few days.  Watch this space for my new personal chart and blogs about Jamie Woon’s Mirrorwriting and Songs For A Sinking Ship by April Smith & The Great Picture Show.

Heading into Spring Popervescence!

I could certainly write paragraphs gloating over Adele’s ginormously supurb 21 album, and in particular the UK #1 single “Someone Like You”, or I could go on and on about how I think Britney’s “Till The World Ends” should be the 2011 World Cup soccer theme but retitled “Till The Game Ends”.  But instead I’ve got some wonderful new music to tell you about and a couple of tidbits about some upcoming shows in my town (Toronto).

Kyle Brylin “Everything I’m Missing”


and

Kyle Brylin “Committed”


After reading glowing reviews over U.S. singer Kyle Brylin’s songs over the past couple of years, and being lukewarm about them, you have no idea how happy I am to praise his latest efforts “Everything I’m Missing” and “Committed”, from his upcoming album Make It So.  These songs are so different from anything on the InterWeb now, and that’s pretty hard to achieve.  You might think at first: Too Much Flippin’ Autotune.  Maybe.  But there’s something utterly hypnotic and otherworldly about “Missing” in particular that got my eyebrows arched last week and now tugs on my ears regularly.  Then there’s “Committed”, which has this smashing hook and less autotune, but doesn’t quite hold the same interest all the way through.  Last, there are the videos.  The video for “Missing” seems pretty typical, until you notice one feature:  Excessive amount of eyeliner.  And just with all that black, the imagery turns somewhat sardonically sinister, despite Kyle’s great smile and overall seductive tone of the song.  The video for “Committed” is impressive in a different way.  Call it Bold Chair Calisthenics.   Terrific job.  Keep this great music coming and Kyle Brylin will be the toast of the pop/dance club scene.

Eric Saade “Popular”

The songs to date from 20 year old Swedish pop star Eric Saade have been catchy, but other songs have tended to capture my interest more.  That is, until “Popular”.  This song is a Finalist in Sweden’s annual Melodifestivalen contest.  This show has some of the best performances for a televised event that I’ve seen in years.  Young Mr. Saade’s compelling performance of “Popular” so reminds me of the star-making performance by Mans Zelmerlow two years ago.  While Mans hasn’t broken into the international market, “Popular” is more accessible and screams International Pop Winner.  Good luck to Eric this coming weekend *fingers crossed*

Collin McLoughlin “Back To The Wall”

Collin McLoughlin is a 22 year old singer from New York who previously played hip hop/pop/rock music in a band called Nautical Young.  With a few connections such as producers One Love (B.o.B.’s “Airplanes”), Collin has branched off into a solo career focusing on pop/rock with a soulful but commercial edge.  That’s attracted a lot of interest among a fervent fan base at his live shows.  A recent single from his upcoming album is “Back To The Wall”, which has a streetwise sound that wouldn’t sound out of place at a sporting event in a large stadium.  Sometimes big can be better and it sure looks like Collin McLoughlin’s career is getting bigger by the moment.

Toronto Tidbits

It doesn’t seem long ago that Toronto-based quartet The Midway State released its debut full length album Holes.  But actually that was in 2008!  Enduring singles “Never Again” and “Change For You”, a performance with Lady GaGa in 2009 for a cover of Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”, as well as constant touring have built a loyal following which led to two Juno Awards nominations and well-attended gigs just about everywhere.  Amid all of this the band has recorded its follow up album Paris Or India, due on May 31, and will showcase songs in Toronto at a St. Patrick’s Day show (March 17) at The Ballroom.  Find out more about the show at the band’s website – a good show by these four nice guys is well worth checking out!

He’s gonna be more than a flavour of the moment:  UK pop/soul guy Jamie Woon is performing a handful of North American shows, including one in Toronto on March 25 at Wrongbar.  You can hear a new track below by Jamie called “Lady Luck”, which exudes its own charm, and is totally unlike my recent chart fave “Night Air”.


Shhh… here’s the clip from the Brit Awards of Adele singing “Someone Like You”.  Couldn’t resist – so heartwrenching 🙂

And finally… dance your ahhhsss off to an amazing 90’s megamix courtesy of Bright Light Bright Light 🙂


10 Performers to Watch in 2010!

There may be other performers about to breakthrough in 2010, but these are 10 that caught my ear and attention in 2009.  With the right support behind them and the fanbases to get them through, I can see all of these performers being better known by the end of 2010!  They’re listed alphabetically.

DAN BLACK resident music mad scientist

After teasing us with a home mix unauthorized Notorious B.I.G. and Rihanna samples in 2008 on “HYPNTZ”, Dan Black’s musical scientifics found their way onto a debut CD in mid-2009 called UN.  This Englishman based in Paris (hence the title of the CD, the French word for ‘one’) creates breathtaking melodies wrapped in many studio tricks, which he then surrounds with intelligent, playful words and emotions.  “HYPNTZ” begat the lush “Symphonies” which caught online attention, as well as subsequent European singles “Alone” and “Yours”, which all feature creative and interesting videos.  Dan came across the pond to NYC for a showcase in the Fall, and just as the year ends we saw UN released in North America with “Symphonies” as the free single of the week on iTunes USA.  Club dates will follow in 2010.  Justin Timberlake and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic have both tweeted about him, so I’m sure that in 2010 the world will find out that Dan Black is the real deal.

CHARLIE BROWN sensitive rapper or edgy soul singer?

There was quite an online to-do about UK  soul singer and rapper Charlie Brown during the summer.  He was featured vocalist in one of those shoulda-been-a-hits called “The Rain” by Bless Beats and Wiley with the kind of vocal that makes a song really shine.  Then he released a free mixtape through his MySpace site that showed the edgy vibe that was only hinted at in “The Rain” – a particular standout is “Don’t Make Me Over”.  Charlie Brown is definitely well worth the chat – I’d like to see him catch on with international artists in a similar way to fellow countryman Jay Sean (but I’ll skip the duets with Lil’ Wayne and Sean Paul).

AGNES CARLSSON the new voice of Sweden

Agnes has been a star in her native Sweden these last few years, after triumphing on their own edition of American Idol.  In late 2008, Agnes released the CD Dance Love Pop, full of well sung pop trifles and dance ditties to tweak your ears and feet.  One of those ditties, Release Me, was a domestic success and attracted international ears, first starting in the U.K., where it was released, reaching #3 on the pop charts.  Then it spread to North America, where DJ’s and clubgoers grabbed it and sent it to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart.  Oft compared to Leona Lewis, and deservedly so, Agnes Carlsson proves that the right voice matched with the right song will create a launching pad for success, something that should grow for her internationally in 2010.

SIMON CURTIS a new breed of pop male vocalist

Though I had heard of Simon Curtis through a song or two that was featured in the Nickelodeon movie Spectacular! early in 2009, I did not find out what was up this Tulsa-raised multi-talent’s sleeve until later this year.  In fact, I caught on to all happenings Simon Curtis via Twitter just as his followers numbered over 6,000.  As his followers grew, he began to release new songs online for free, to preview the upcoming free ‘pop mixtape’ that he’s been working on called 8Bit Heart.  First up was “Delusional”, a complexly produced song about heeding (unwanted) advice that features crafty, soaring vocals (hello Darren Hayes high notes!) and 0ther moments of music magic.  In a different world, this song would be all over pop radio, but these days enough exposure online will grab new fans eager for great songs like this.  Next up was “Diablo”, a bit of entertaining but hyperkinetic vitriol at romance gone waaay wrong that you might not expect from Simon – it successfully flips Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” upside its head, and also makes a statement for the kinds of songs not being produced by young male pop singers of today.  So now we have 8Bit Heart to watch for in 2010.  Aside from the songs, I’m looking forward to whatever Simon offers next!

THE MIDWAY STATE no holes in their plans

These aren’t just any four nice guys from the Toronto area looking for domestic success.  They’re a talented bunch, led by singer/songwriter Nathan Ferraro, who toured the hell out of their debut album Holes back and forth across Canada and back again in 2009 and managed to score not only two Juno Award nominations, but also a duet with (of all people) Lady GaGa on a cover of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”!!  It all started with an unassuming song called “Never Again”, which took its time in late 2008 to catch on.  But it’s that song’s raw edges and extremely catchy chorus that grabbed me, enough to send me to two of their concerts.  Then came a domestic Top 20 success with “Change For You”, which was later remixed into a duet with Carly Rae Jepsen.  And after Michael Jackson passed way, they posted a free download of their sensitive cover of “Man in the Mirror”.  Like with Canadian rockers Marianas Trench, The Midway State has more to them than meets the eyes and ears, giving them enormous potential for an international breakout.

MIIKE SNOW their lucky rabbit’s foot

Towards the end of 2009, Miike Snow are becoming less of a mystery to me.  They’re a trio featuring Swedish DJ/producers extraordinaire Grammy winners Bloodshy & Avant (aka Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg) of Britney Spears (“Toxic”) and Madonna fame, and New York vocalist Andrew Wyatt.  It’s definitely an eclectic mix but I found remixes of “Animal” very playful with the year closing with a potentially massive club hit with “Black and Blue”.  The trio toured internationally throughout 2009 to extensive critical raves, which undoubtedly will continue in 2010.

RYAN STAR how to breathe right now 4 other people

After some limited success after appearing on RockStar:Supernova a few years back and releasing a CD with a band called Stage, New Yorker Ryan Star has led the indie journeyman rock star life.  With the advent of MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, Ryan has got the message out to fans interested in his earnest, hard-working style and vocally and lyrically powerful songs.   “Last Train Home”, featured in the film PS I Love  you, first caught my attention in 2008, leaving me begging for more.   Then I learned that Ryan had a CD called 11:59 in the works, and from those sessions in early 2009 came “Right Now”, which I initially thought was just so much of a rock-oriented cheerleading song… until the sentiment underneath grew on me.  Now I see that song as a major source of positive encouragement and reinforcement.  Later in the year Ryan released “Breathe”, accompanied by a video of actual people looking for work in the downturn of the U.S. economy.  Through hashes on Twitter and rapid word-of-mouth, this song and all that’s positive about it reached many ears and may have actually helped some of the people in the video get jobs.  So Ryan Star is U.S. Rock Star and Everyday Good Samaritan – a great combination well worth watching in the coming year!

EVAN TAUBENFELD welcome to his takeover

You may know him best right know as the blond-haired Baltimore-bred guitarist and songwriter from Avril Lavigne’s band in its “Complicated” days, but for the past few years, Evan’s had nothing better in mind than conquering the world one fan at a time.  He’s about to release the CD Welcome to the Black List Club through Warner Brothers, and gave us a few tastes of that CD in 2009.  “Boy Meets Girl” took a witty pop culture approach about meeting members of the opposite sex, while “Cheater of the Year” (my favourite song of Evan’s thus far) made no bones about calling out a previous object of desire.  And at year’s end, Evan shot and scored with the festive season by offering up “Merry Swiftmas” right at the time Taylor Swift is at her most popular, suddenly making her a more-than-welcome gift under young men’s Christmas trees!  Evan makes sure there’s always something going on via his website, MySpace site, or on Twitter to draw in even the most casual music listener.  He also endears himself to his live concert audience, as I discovered in Toronto in September – small crowd, lots of energy on stage, and plenty of opportunities to connect one to one with his audience members.  Be sure to check out Welcome to the Black List Club and a live Evan show in 2010!

SAM TAYLOR torch singer for a new generation

One of many beautiful voices out of the UK, Sam Taylor came to my attention while checking out the mostly kitschy soundtrack to the UK television series Beautiful People.  Amid the retro pop dance tunes came two gorgeous ballads with the BBC Orchestra, “Sometimes I Need You” and especially “Run Away”.  The latter song is my favourite of 2009 and one of the best of the decade, a largely unheard torch song for a new generation.  Sam’s voice will charm even the most casual listener of any age.  He’s got a London stage background to send him through, a penchant for taking risks (a smouldering version of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”), and a connection with online bloggers who have showcased him at small select club dates in London and New York City in 2009.  But as of yet… no album, and I believe, no record contract.  His MySpace site is only teasing us with a couple of other new and unreleased songs (like “Talk Me Down”, which quickly appeared and disappeared, and left me wanting more!).  He may not need that contract – once the online world gets to know Sam Taylor, his music will be everywhere and so will he to support it.  I’m sure Sam’s records will be on many Christmas lists a year from now!!

MANS ZELMERLOW our new mister charisma

2009 was a great year for male vocalists on the rise.  And though they didn’t keep the same pace as the female singers way out in front, they certainly held their own.  And though we haven’t yet seen Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow break out much beyond the domestic success he’s had during the past few years – in fact similar to that of Agnes Carlsson, and they have recorded together – his star-making performance in the Swedish music contest Melodifestivalen singing “Hope and Glory” attracted many online music listeners.  While the song itself is lyrically kitschy, Mans’ performance was absolutely stunning, full of charm and personality that doesn’t exude from many performers these days.  His CD MZW was released in the Spring, when it became a #1 album in Sweden.  MZW is an above average showcase of ballads and uptempo pop songs, but you can hear Mans’ personality the most in “Rewind”, a throwback to summer months that you would swear has been recorded by a laid back guy from the L.A. beaches instead of a Nordic country.  If Mans Zelmerlow’s songs can be marketed successfully outside of Sweden, he will join the likes of Agnes Carlsson and Robyn as one of the few untapped talents to reach international audiences in the next few years.

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 5 (100-51)

Online discoveries and remixes dominate the top 100 of this decade list.  It is like no other list I’ve created before, but it parallels my list of the 1970’s in some ways since I was discovering the UK charts and dance remixes in the latter part of that decade.  But there would have been no way for me to discover, without our current technology and without meeting online friends:

* Dance music available otherwise to club DJ’s such as songs by Casey Stratton, iio, Motorcycle, Axwell, Crystal Waters, Cassius, Armin Van Buuren, Roger Sanchez, and Matt Darey, including remixes of songs by Coldplay and The Fray

* Canadian talent from across the country such as Mitchell Hunter and Jake

* Talent from across the world like Agnes Carlsson, Freemasons, Adele, Duffy, and Newton Faulkner

* Lesser known artists awaiting their breakout, like Tyler Hilton, Evan Taubenfeld, and Dan Black

* Updates on favourites such as David Usher, Darren Hayes, and Chris Isaak

* Monitoring success of new decade favourites like Jason Mraz and Lifehouse

The ‘hits’ are still here too, though much less so than ever.  Discovered the traditional way were songs by 3 Doors Down, Leona Lewis, George Michael (“Amazing”), The Fray (“Over My Head”), and Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown.

So the Top 100 begins with the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments and observations!!