50 . Rihanna – Man Down
It’s difficult to know when she’s really doing a single, isn’t it? For every big one like Only Girl or S&M, there’s a sort of half-released song to keep the album ticking over. I was sure this was supposed to be a proper release, but I guess not. Anyway, not an easy sell for radio, about our heroine RiRi shooting some guy in a train station. There are sirens blaring throughout, and this has an old-school sort of reggae feel to it. Not enough synths to get it on the radio, but good for raising your world profile I’d imagine.
49 . David Guetta – Who’s That Chick? (ft Rihanna)
From One love
A change of pace now with some … Rihanna. Whoops, well it should be no surprise really, since she’s been on MOST of the songs released this year. This time we get this all-out dancepop song for the twentieth re-release of Frenchman David Guetta’s One Love album.
The strikingly colourful video really helped sell this one, and she just looks like she’s having a bit of a laugh. It’s certainly a bit of a throwaway track from the start of this year, and easily lost within both artists’ extensive 2011 output, but I’m still quite fond of it.
48 . Clare Maguire – The Last Dance
From Light after dark
I don’t really know much about this woman, another track from early on in the year. For some reason I always associate it with ITV’s Dancing On Ice, it was used on a routine there. Her voice isn’t really my favourite, that’s probably why I haven’t investigated her more. But the 80s-tinged synthy moments really make this one, and it’s a nice slow burner.
I love that “I’ve got my life in my hands and your love in my heart” phrase too, very memorable.
47 . Adele – Rolling In The Deep
It would be almost impossible to talk about 2011 in music without Adele making some appearance, with her second album being an unexpectedly colossal hit worldwide, selling almost unheard of numbers in the UK, with nearly a solid year in the top 10 (and counting), and close to 4 million sales taking it into the all-time top 10 selling albums. The USA has had a similar story, passing 5 million copies sold this year. Not bad for a year’s work.
The curious thing is that it’s all happened with little ungoing input from Adele herself, being laid up with major surgery. As a result this is the only single we’ve had a ‘proper’ video for, and it was a great one too. The song itself is radio gold, with her vocals really firing on all cylinders. A real triumph.
46 . The Saturdays – All Fired Up
From On your radar
On to a less profitable musical venture, with trouble girlband The Saturdays seemingly on the ropes now after the flop of the single after this and their album. But still they’ve released a few great singles this year, one of which being an all-out dance anthem, a bit of a brave move for an act who have struggled to scratch a living in a hardly crowded pop landscape.
This looked like it could really be a big hit for them, but that elusive No.1 remained out of their reach. I don’t think it’s quite over for them yet, but if they get another bite of the cherry I think we’ll see more dance-pop hybrids than dull ballads, that’s just the way the wind is blowing at the moment, and I’m enjoying it a lot.
45 . JLS – She Makes Me Wanna (ft Dev)
Talking of pop/dance/RnB crossovers, JLS were perfectly placed this year to keep their momentum up as one of the countries biggest pop acts. I do wonder what their plan is though, they are heading in a more and more Americanised direction, so presumably the big push Stateside is on the cards soon. If they succeed, I think it would be more by camouflage than anything, they could easily look like a US act, and that’s a tactic that’s worked before (hello Jay Sean).
The song itself though, is basic enough but a high energy summer club track that ticks pretty much all the “in the cluuuub” track cliches of the moment. It’s even got a cameo from strangely omnipresent Dev, who certainly gets around.
44 . Ke$ha – Blow
From Animal Cannibal
Why don’t I hate this woman? By all accounts she seems like worst kind of trashy novelty act, but she keeps bringing the tracks. She’s even improving, so I am quite interested to see what her second album will be like. This curiously flopped in the UK, despite (in my opinion) being stronger than its predecessor We R Who We R that gave her a No.1 in January.
The video is all kinds of ridiculous too, a laser gunfight with James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek, with lots of collateral damage affecting the nearby unicorns (!). The song itself builds into a really great club track, but totally Ke$ha.
43 . Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
From Femme Fatale
Queen of surprising comebacks, Britney hasn’t had a bad old year has she? Or at least if you are basing this on US Billboard positions she’s not had a bad year. Album sales aren’t anything massive but she certainly doesn’t seem to have lost much ground to more recent acts snapping at her heels.
The trend for pop/dance crossovers has really suited Britney well, with Femme Fatale ending up as one of her more consistent album efforts. It’s not quite another “Blackout”, but when you have singles like this, there’s not much to worry about. A surprisingly expensive video that looks like she’s really having some fun again, and that’s always a good thing to see. The song is a pulsing dance monster, and really up there with some of her best, even if it’s not one of her more iconic hits.
42 . Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger (ft Christina Aguilera)
From Hands all over
Now a real rollercoaster, the big sleeper hit of the latter part of the year. I liked it when it first came out, but it sort of burnt out early on. But somehow it’s really grown back on me again, and it’s now got a few happy memories attached to it, so I’ll look back on this fondly.
It’s a bit of nonsense really, I think the title is just a weird one to get attention, and the Christina Aguilera feature credit is a little unnecessary, if only to prop up both hers and Maroon 5’s musical profile, and to cross-promote “The Voice” on which they are both mentors. Just like every hard-up musical act this year, they’ve turned to the clubs for a revival, and they seem to have hit the jackpot this time, giving their biggest hit in several territories.
41 . Lena Meyer-Landrut – Taken By A Stranger
From Eurovision Song Contest 2011: Dusseldorf
Come now, did you think I’d get this far without mentioning the E-word? As I may have mentioned, I travelled to Dusseldorf for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, after Lena won the contest in Oslo last year (which I also went to). The buzz in Germany for this defending champion was palpable, it’s always great to see a country supporting their act, probably because that’s something we rarely do in the UK.
Anyway the song isn’t really something I thought people would pick up on in the 3-minute performing time, so the more cynical among you might think she was using her guaranteed qualification to the final as a promotional tool for her new album. Who knows. But it was certainly a standout moment on the night, with a dark dangerous vibe in the staging, and great visuals. The explosion at the end frightened the crap out of me, but it all went to good effect. Certainly one of the more memorable songs of the year’s contenders.