Day 2 of my end of year countdown, and while we are still some way from the top there are plenty of hot tracks to look at. I’m still working out the top 20, I thought I had it all pinned down but now I’m not so sure… hmm.
40. Chvrches – The Mother We Share
From The Bones Of What You Believe
What business do I have with such trendy music, I’ve never been a cool kid, and yet I really loved my introduction to Chvrches this Autumn and their slightly dour brand of lush Scottish electronica. Ahead of the pack from their “The bones of what you believe” album was this gorgeous single. The vocals are sweet without being sickly, and there’s something slightly frayed about those filtered synths. Accessible and wonderful, a strong debut.
39. Jennifer Lopez – Live It Up (ft Pitbull)
Now for something a little trashier, and nothing adds class like a Pitbull feature credit does it? J.Lo is wobbling on the cresting wave she started with her massive 2011 hit “On the floor“, and while its parent album did reasonable business she seems to be floundering with a long-term plan. “Live it up” popped up over the summer amid a flurry of transatlantic promo, but what was it for?
Perhaps we would have heard the answer by now had this been a bigger hit, but for my money I think it’s another catchy RedOne party hit with some addictive little hooks and a great pulsing energy. It might not being doing any good to any ambitions of being an artiste, but it’s good for me.
38. JLS – Billion Lights
After a rather prolonged goodbye, JLS are calling it a day after a series of diminishing returns that would’ve been quite an achievement to turn around. Instead of facing the indignity of an outright flop, they closed their account with a final tour and a greatest hits tour this Winter.
The hits collection is pretty solid, and comes with a new track that holds its own in their catalogue. I’d have thought this commercial RnB-EDM mix would’ve been fruitful for the boys, but it seems the public weren’t biting for this one. However I would rank it as one of their most energetic and joyful singles after years leaning more towards cool-guy RnB. But I guess we’ll never know how that would have panned out now. Later guys, you did good.
37. Little Mix – Little Me
I always struggle to rank songs that appear on my radar so late in the year, you don’t know how much of it is the novelty of newness. However I enjoyed Little Mix’s second album “Salute” a lot, and this was definitely one of the highlights for me, I just hope it works out as a single.
With a classical sample from Faure’s “Pavane”, which I’ve just realised was also sampled by S Club 7’s “Natural” (small world) it’s a subtly great soundbed for their best self-help anthem yet. They are perhaps pushing the female empowerment agenda a bit too fiercely, but it totally pays off on this one.
36. Ylvis – The Fox
Having dealt with PSY yesterday, it was only a matter of time before the next big viral hit came through, and Norway was the origin of this one. Originally designed as a video for Ylvis’s chat show, it blew up on Youtube and a hurried promo trail around the world stoked the fires on this one.
A whimsical thought experiment about what noise the fox makes, in a world where most animals have pretty defined catchphrases. I think the reason for its virality might even be that it wasn’t designed to be a viral hit, and was simply a catchy comedy song that cashed in a favour with their friends, multi-million selling production team Stargate. The rest, is history, and who knows what 2014 will have in store for them.
35. Lady Gaga – Venus
From the ridiculous to the … well, it’s Lady Gaga, make of that what you will. With “ARTPOP” finally appearing in November after a lengthy gestation, the internet was keen to know what she’d come up with. Speculation was rife about “Venus” after her seashell bikini exploits with the “Applause” promo and hints about it on the album cover.
It seems to have taken a back seat after “Do what U want” blew up, but I do appreciate this oddball Gaga track with all manner of hooks, and even a spoken-word tour of the Solar System. It’s not for everybody, but once it got me it wasn’t going to let go in a hurry. I hope this eventually gets a video, it has the potential.
34. Bastille – Pompeii
From Bad Blood
Now credit where credit’s due, this is a beast of a song. From that “eh eh oh eh oh” hook, and that sort of indie-pop vibe with the big drums is a pretty potent mix. I absolutely hate people putting on affected accents to stand out (oh hai, John Newman, Ellie Goulding, I could go on), but this guy gets a pardon for one night only. I’m trying not to listen to the hype too much, this isn’t my scene for the most part.
I didn’t really like the followup, and I HATED what they did with “Rhythm of the night”, HATED IT! But I’ll give them “Pompeii”.
33. Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks
From My head is an animal
This took its sweet time to win me over, and now I wonder why. In fairness I thought they were part of the put-on accents brigade too until I realised they were Icelandic and realised they are just adorable. That animated video made a bit more sense then, rather than a pseudo-art student effort to make it all seem a bit more ‘real music’, it was just a cultural thing I guess.
Either way, I’ve gotten over my initial hang-ups, and this song even managed to survive being used on that dreadful-looking new Richard Curtis movie. It’s not really like anything else in my countdown I think, and I still can’t resist singing along to it in the car, so I guess it’s all good.
32. Nicki Minaj – Va Va Voom
From Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Another hangover from late 2012, Nicki has been a bit quiet this year. There have been the odd few feature credits but I’ll just bide my time for the next album. The last commercial-sounding gasp from the bloated “Roman Reloaded” re-issue had Dr Luke to thank. I always end up wondering what Ke$ha or Katy Perry would have sounded on any Dr Luke tracks that don’t end up with them. I wonder.
Either way it’s got a great chorus and a gorgeously rich synth rhythm. The video is weird though, I mean I expect that sort of thing from her but what does it all MEAN? Perhaps it’s best not to worry about those things when Minaj is concerned. But I hope she’s back soon.
31. Jason Derulo – The Other Side
Oh Jason, how much longer can this go on? It feels like for all the hits he scores – and he had two biggies this year with this and “Talk Dirty” – he never seems to have much luck with albums. Ultimately “Tattoos” fell to the same fate as his others, but I can only presume his solid worldwide single sales are keeping him as a going concern for the time being..
The height of summer saw this beautifully romantic song about having sex with your friends. Awwww <3. As formulaic as it turned out – heaps of EDM, Jason’s soaring vocals, perhaps he gets his top off etc. – it was a satisfyingly euphoric rush of a track, and long may he keep releasing them.