40. Scissor Sisters – Only the Horses
From Magic Hour
While I didn’t really get on with its parent album “Magic Hour”, this lead single was just on the right side of synth-drenched pop, without resorting to the high-camp of earlier albums. Album sales didn’t follow suit, but the album felt a little truer to the act, free from the pressure of following up a smash album.
It may not have the characteristic humour we are used to the Sisters, but it’s alive and well on the album in tracks like “Let’s have a Kiki”. Could have sworn Stuart Price had stepped in for this track, but it was superproducer of the moment Calvin Harris working his magic once again.
39. Owl City – Dreams And Disasters
From The Midsummer Station
I really do love Owl City. I don’t know why, he’s in constant of danger of sounding a bit samey, particularly with three albums out in as many years. But “The Midsummer Station” was an energetic and faster-paced effort than his previous two. This is demonstrated wonderfully with this opening track.
He got a decent hit out of hitching his wagon to Carly Rae Jepsen’s star on “Good time”, but I think this chorus just goes that little bit further for me.
38. Charlotte Perrelli – The Girl
From Melodifestivalen 2012
Melodifestivalen time, and former Eurovision winner Charlotte Perrelli threw her hat into the ring one more time after her less-successful comeback in 2008.
It comes out all guns blazing, and borrows heavily from “Mamma mia”, but that chorus is just vibrant pop music that is so often produced in the hotly contested Swedish show. It shockingly didn’t even qualify for the MF final, but she didn’t shame herself with the song (except when she forgot the words).
37. Cher Lloyd – Want U Back
From Sticks + Stones
When I saw the lavish video I expect a break for the US was on the cards, and I was right. She scored a hit with this track (though oddly a different video), even if it wasn’t the hit it deserved to be on home soil.
A shamelessly jealous track about having second through after dumping someone, superb pop music that doesn’t deserve to be shunned just because of her dodgy credibility here. Wasn’t a bad album at all, either!
36. Minnie-Oh – You And I
From Melodi Grand Prix 2012
Having mentioned Eurovision and the Swedish selection show Melodifestivalen, it should come as no surprise to hear a track from the Norwegian counterpart Melodi Grand Prix. I can’t say I loved a lot of the tracks when I listened to it, but there were still some gems to be had. This included this Robyn-esque electropop track that has grown and grown on me.
35. Amelia Lily – You Bring Me Joy
Of all the X-Factor alumni I expected to hear anything good from, shouty Amelia Lily from last year’s contest wasn’t one of them. Stepping aside from the pop-rock Kelly Clarkson covers she put her name to on the show, this is a surprisingly fresh dance-pop track not unlike something Rihanna might have made.
It remains to be seen if she’ll be an act to watch, but this was certainly a pleasant surprise, and proof that losing doesn’t always mean you’ll never make it.
34. Madonna – Girl Gone Wild
Madonna’s back, and she’s bad. Well you can tell Benny Benassi was on production duties here, sharing a sound or two with his “Celebration” remix from 2009. Sounds pretty throwaway and a depressing prospect for a second single. Indeed it tanked pretty much everywhere, but for me it really grew. It’s simple but it doesn’t mean it’s crap.
But what really set it off for me was seeing her perform live on her MDNA tour. OK it wasn’t an amazing concert for me, mostly for practical reasons in a cramped standing area, but this one really came alive on the stage.
33. Chris Brown – Don’t Wake Me Up
Yeah yeah, I know, everybody hates Chris, right? Well as long as I don’t have to speak to him, I’m happy to enjoy some of his music if I like it.
The big European dance feel to it certainly helps, it felt like a perfect summer hit – which it was in several countries – and launched his latest album to a transatlantic #1. That video is a bit OTT though isn’t it?
32. Ne-Yo – Let me love you (Until you learn to love yourself)
Speaking of RnB-goes-dance, if you prefer your crooners to be less abusive, then Ne-Yo is a decent bet, picking up several hits and feature credits during the year. This is probably his biggest hit for a while, scoring a #1 in the UK. It took a little while for it to grow on me, I think it broke through when I was out of the country.
But it keeps the RnB heart for the most part, with a warm and simmering dance beat for him to lay his soaring vocals on top of. It’s a bit of a sickly sentiment but I think I find it quite sweet now.
31. Sam and the Womp – Bom Bom
Every year there has to be a holiday hit from mainland Europe. Last year it was that “What the f**k” one from Spain, before that it was “Me no speako Americano”, the list goes on. Except that while this has all the hallmarks of a holiday hit, it was made in London.
But that doesn’t stop it from being a riotously fun bit of heavily-accented nonsense. Flashes of Bjork, flashes of Basement Jaxx, a chaotic production of big beats and trumpets. I’m surprised it made it to No.1 but it’s one of the odder No.1s of the year.