Monday, 31 December 2012

Top 100 songs of 2012!

As promised, with a few hours of 2012 left to go, here are my favourite 100 songs of the year!

100. Flo Rida feat Sia - Wild Ones
99. Tone Damli - Look Back
98. One Direction - One Thing
97. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Only In My Dreams
96. Whigfield - As I Go
95. Alanis Morrissette - Guardian
94. Nelly Furtado - Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)
93. Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo
92. Rihanna - Diamonds
91. Rumer - P.F. Sloan
90. Avicii feat Salem Al Fakir - Silhouettes
89. Darin - Nobody Knows
88. Delta Goodrem - Uncovered
87. Calvin Harris feat Tinie Tempah - Drinking From The Bottle
86. Rihanna feat Mikky Ekko - Stay
85. One Direction - Little Things
84. Nora Foss Al-Jabri - Somewhere Beautiful
83. Loreen - Crying Out Your Name
82. Nina Zilli - L'Amore E' Femmina
81. Emeli Sandé - Next To Me
80. Calvin Harris feat Ne-Yo - Let's Go
79. Usher - Climax
78. Brooke Duff - Till The End
77. Kylie Minogue - Timebomb
76. Timoteij - Stormande Hav
75. Jessie Ware - Night Light
74. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
73. Mando Diao - Strövtåg I Hembygden
72. Katy Perry - Wide Awake
71. Marigold - You & I Know
70. Ria - The One
69. Adele - Skyfall
68. Elisa's - Linjen I Min Hand
67. Jenny Langlo - Million Dollar Signs
66. Minnie-Oh - You & I
65. Frida Amundsen - Rush
64. Petra Marklund - Handerna Mot Himlen
63. Tooji - Stay
62. Jennifer Lopez feat Pitbull - Dance Again
61. Olly Murs feat Flo Rida - Troublemaker
60. Florence + The Machine - Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Remix)
59. Gossling - Wild Love
58. Gusttavo Lima - Balada (Tchê Tcherere Tchê Tchê)
57. Still Corners - Fireflies
56. Of Monsters & Men - Little Talks
55. Girls Aloud - Beautiful Cause You Love Me
54. Christina Aguilera - Your Body
53. Freja Loeb - Never Stop Coming Back
52. The Justice Collective - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
51. Nicki Minaj - Starships
50. Nicki Minaj - Pound The Alarm
49. Train - 50 Ways To Say Goodbye
48. Little Mix - Wings
47. Charlotte Perrelli - The Girl
46. Ivi Adamou - La La Love
45. No Doubt - Settle Down
44. fun. feat Janelle Monae - We Are Young
43. Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free
42. Laleh - Some Die Young
41. One Direction - I Would
40. Nádine - I Will Be Strong
39. Steps - Light Up The World
38. Mr Little Jeans - Runaway
37. Michel Teló - Ai Se Eu Te Pego (Nossa Nossa)
36. Taylor Swift - I Knew You Were Trouble.
35. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
34. Loreen - My Heart Is Refusing Me
33. Skylar Grey feat Eminem - C'mon Let Me Ride
32. David Guetta feat Sia - She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)
31. Cheryl - Call My Name
30. Robbie Williams - Candy
29. Cover Drive - Twilight
28. Chris Brown - Don't Wake Me Up
27. Saint Etienne - Over The Border
26. Mandinga - Zaleilah
25. Sam & The Womp - Bom Bom
24. Labrinth feat Emeli Sandé - Beneath Your Beautiful
23. Christina Aguilera feat Blake Shelton - Just A Fool
22. Delta Goodrem - Dancing With A Broken Heart
21. Danny Saucedo - Amazing
20. Maroon 5 feat Wiz Khalifa - Payphone
19. Björn Ranelid feat Sara Li - Mirakel
18. Whigfield - 4Ever
17. Haloo Helsinki! - Maailman Toisella Puolen
16. PSY - Gangnam Style
15. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
14. Agnes - One Last Time
13. Girls Aloud - Something New
12. Delta Goodrem - Sitting On Top Of The World
11. ATB feat Ramona Nerra - Never Give Up
10. David Guetta feat Sia - Titanium
9. Swedish House Mafia feat John Martin - Don't You Worry Child
8. Prance Faris - Flares
7. Delta Goodrem - Wish You Were Here
6. Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
5. Rae Morris - Don't Go
4. Gotye feat Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know
3. Delta Goodrem - Hunters And The Wolves
2. Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen - Good Time
1. Loreen - Euphoria

Words will fail to express how much I love Euphoria but I'll give it a go. Pre-Euphoria I was a bit of a Loreen doubter, I liked both My Heart Is Refusing Me and Sober, but both had felt slightly unsubstantial in some way, I sensed that Loreen had more to give, she seemed like such a unique performer. Fast forward to Melodifestivalen 2012 and the fact that she'd decided to return already suggested that she knew she'd found something good, a reason worth coming back for. The first time I heard the song in full was her Melodifestivalen semi-final performance. I was absolutely blown away by the song and her unusual performance and the studio version confirmed to me that this song was incredibly special. It beat early hot favourite Danny Saucedo to win Melodifestivalen 2012 and two months later swept to a highly convincing Eurovision victory for Sweden.

The day after the contest Euphoria raced to #1 on iTunes across the continent, including in the Eurovision-phobic UK, where it settled for a #3 debut and peak officially. It was a mammoth hit across Europe and has put Loreen's name well and truly on the map. After her brilliant debut album Heal, I'm intrigued to see what she will do next! For me this song has never got boring, I've played it a ridiculous 300+ times according to my iTunes playcounts, five times as much as I've played any other song this year, I'll never tire of hearing that pounding siren intro leading into the melancholy brooding beat of the verses and the literal Euphoria of the chorus. The immense dance production laden with sweeping strings and the winding down to the minimalistic middle eight before crashing back into the incredible chorus and the thundering finish. Everything about the song is perfection.

Elsewhere in the top ten, the feel good summer anthem Good Time by shock non one hit wonders Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen is my second favourite song of the year, Delta Goodrem manages two entries with the Tori Amos like drama of Hunters & The Wolves and the beautiful ballad Wish You Were Here, whilst Blackpool singer Rae Morris' own piano ballad Don't Go is at #5, just behind Gotye and Kimbra's worldwide chart topping smash duet Somebody That I Used To Know. Taylor Swift's country pop hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is #6 and a trio of dance anthems round off the top ten. Flares by unknown Swedish dance producer Prance Faris, Don't You Worry Child, the amazing farewell single from Swedish House Mafia and Titanium the fantastic UK #1 from French DJ David Guetta and Australian singer Sia. It's been a pretty great year for music, singles especially with other modern classics in my top 100 including Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe (#15), PSY's Gangnam Style (#16), fun.'s We Are Young (#44) and Nicki Minaj's Starships (#51) amongst many many others!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Top 40 albums of 2012!

Kicking off my end of year countdowns, here is my top 40 favourite albums of 2012, the top 100 singles will follow in the next few days!

40. Elton John vs. Pnau - Good Morning To The Night
39. Alanis Morissette - Havoc and Bright Lights
38. Kelly Clarkson - Greatest Hits - Chapter One
37. Cascada - It's Christmas Time
36. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon
35. Kylie Minogue - The Abbey Road Sessions
34. Jennifer Lopez - Dance Again...The Hits
33. Gotye - Making Mirrors
32. Charlotte Perrelli - The Girl
31. Carrie Underwood - Blown Away
30. Lucy Spraggan - Top Room At The Zoo
29. Nádine - Christmas In South Africa
28. Ke$ha - Warrior
27. Leona Lewis - Glassheart
26. Rihanna - Unaplologetic
25. Cheryl - A Million Lights
24. Girls Aloud - Ten
23. Little Mix - DNA
22. One Direction - Take Me Home
21. Mika - The Origin Of Love
20. Train - California 37
19. Christina Aguilera - Lotus
18. Taylor Swift - Red
17. Jessie Ware - Devotion
16. Nelly Furtado - The Spirit Indestructible
15. Timoteij - Tabu
14. Ed Sheeran - +
13. Madonna - MDNA
12. Maroon 5 - Overexposed
11. Carly Rae Jepsen - Kiss


10. Missy Higgins - The Ol' Razzle Dazzle

Highlights: Temporary Love, Set Me On Fire, Unashamed Desire, Hello Hello, Everyone's Waiting

9. Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded

Highlights: Pound The Alarm, Starships, Young Forever, Va Va Voom, Marilyn Monroe, Whip It, Beez In The Trap, Right By My Side

8. Loreen - Heal

Highlights: Euphoria, My Heart Is Refusing Me, Crying Out Your Name, In My Head, Everytime, If She's The One

7. Agnes - Veritas

Highlights: One Last Time, Human Touch, Loaded, All I Want Is You, Nothing Else Matters, Like God, Into The Sun

6. Tone Damli - Looking Back

Highlights: Butterflies, Stuck In My Head, No Way Out, I Love You, Imagine, Look Back

5. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger

Highlights: Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), Mr Know It All, I Forgive You, Don't You Wanna Stay, Breaking Your Own Heart, Einstein, Let Me Down

4. Steps - The Ultimate Collection

Highlights: Last Thing On My Mind, One For Sorrow, It's The Way You Make Me Feel, Love's Got A Hold On My Heart, Heartbeat, Better Best Forgotten, Say You'll Be Mine

3. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

Highlights: Video Games, Born To Die, Ride, National Anthem, Summertime Sadness, Off To The Races, Blue Jeans, Diet Mountain Dew

2. Emeli Sandé - Our Version Of Events

Highlights: Beneath Your Beautiful, Heaven, Mountains, Next To Me, My Kind Of Love, Where I Sleep, River, Read All About It (Part III)

1. Delta Goodrem - Child Of The Universe

Highlights: Hunters And The Wolves, Wish You Were Here, Sitting On Top Of The World, Dancing With A Broken Heart, Knocked Out, When My Stars Come Out, War On Love, Child Of The Universe


A mixture of brilliant debuts, disappointing (but still good) comebacks and improvements on previous eras define the bottom end of my year end top 40. Alanis Morissette, Carrie Underwood, Cheryl, One Direction, Mika, Train, Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, Timoteij, Madonna, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maroon 5 all came out with albums that I found better than their immediate predecessors. Ellie Goulding, Leona Lewis and Rihanna's previous efforts were all stronger but I still liked all three a lot. Some very promising debuts from Little Mix, Jessie Ware and Lucy Spraggan, great retrospectives from Girls Aloud, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Lopez and some excellent oddities from Elton John vs Pnau, Kylie Minogue, Cascada and Nádine. Special mention to The Spirit Indestructible by Nelly Furtado which shifted approximately 0.000000001% globally that her previous monster English album Loose did, but that's not to say that it deserved this fate - from start to finish it's excellent, especially all of the various collaborations on the album! 

But kicking off the end of year top ten is the third album by Australian singer/songwriter Missy Higgins. She finished in my end of year top ten in both 2005 and 2007 with previous albums The Sound Of White and On A Clear Night and despite a five year break she certainly didn't disappoint this time around, her songs just as melodic and affecting as ever. Nicki Minaj's second album was far more to my tastes than her first, the 'pop half' especially and it finishes a respectable 9th for the year! Loreen's debut album Heal wasn't perhaps the 'best album ever' that many may have expected but it was still an amazing debut album. Loads of growers but sometimes that's the best way! Fellow former Swedish Idol contestant Agnes provided a slightly better album, the brilliant Veritas, a worthy follow up to the monster that was Dance Love Pop. Chock full of strings and great choruses, the only missing element from the album was the lack of the 2011 single Don't Go Breaking My Heart. And my favourite Scandipop album of 2012 comes from Norwegian singer Tone Damli with her first career retrospective. Looking Back really made me realise just how fantastic this woman is at exploiting the niche that she nicely fills - radio freindly string-laden MOR pop. A couple of duds on there from her early career but post (and including) Butterflies, everything has been glorious!

A couple of 2011 albums kick off the top five! The first is Kelly Clarkson's fifth studio album, Stronger. It was #20 in my 2011 end of year chart but continued to grow into the new year when I began to re-explore albums that I might have not fully realised the potential of/got lost in the Xmas rush! Far better than All I Ever Wanted, it was possibly my favourite Kelly album since the defining Breakaway, complete with two absolutely killer singles that gave her back to back top 3's in my singles chart for the first time since 2005! Reformed in 2011, Steps' Ultimate Collection finished 2011 inside my top ten albums but goes even higher this year and into the top five thanks my enduring love for this retrospective (far more than their new studio album which failed to register for my top 40 of the year!). Packed full of turn of the millennium classic pop, I still regularly listen to this great pop collection.

American chanteuse Lana Del Rey kicks off the top three of the year with her debut album Born To Die. An absolutely gorgeous, sometimes haunting, album full of sombre balladry and self pity, I absolutely adored this woman and this album during 2012! But not quite as much as I loved the ever over-exposed Emeli Sandé. The former guest singer on rap singles, she broke off into her own this year and became the biggest female solo artist since Adele! The beautiful Our Version Of Events is mostly a ballad heavy affair, save for Next To Me and Wonder from the repackage. But when the ballads are as great as Beneath Your Beautiful, Mountains, Read All About It (Part III), My Kind Of Love and River, it really doesn't matter. And then the great Massive Attack influenced sounds of Heaven and Daddy, it's like listening to a greatest hits album, even though it's her debut. She's had every promo slot going this year and would probably attend the opening of an envelope but it truly is one of my favourite albums of 2012 and I'm glad that people are hearing it and her stunning voice. 

And onto the album of the year. After the slightly lacklustre Delta followed my two favourite albums of all time, Innocent Eyes and Mistaken Identity, I wondered if Miss Goodrem had lost her spark, or at least lost it in my eyes. After a huge five years away my favourite artist returned with Child Of The Universe. I fell in love instantly with the jolly comeback single Sitting On Top Of The World, the dancy Sophie B Hawkins soundalike Dancing With A Broken Heart, the gorgeous and emotional Wish You Were Here and the Tori Amos-esque stormer Hunters And The Wolves - Delta was back on top form. Add to this the jaunty country-tinged pop of Knocked Out, the Motown of When My Stars Come Out, the frantic drama of War Of Love and Child Of The Universe, the Mariah warbling of Safe To Believe and the Brian bashing Alcohol and it made for a stunning comeback. If you haven't heard this album I fully recommend it, I'm just praying for a UK release at this point!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Why 'Så Mycket Bättre' should come to the UK

Så Mycket Bättre is one of Sweden's most popular TV shows, with a premise so simple and obvious that not only is it astonishing that nobody thought of it before, but it's incredible that the format hasn't found its way across the world yet, and I wonder if it ever will. Translating as 'so much better', the show basically features seven popular Swedish artists each series, who in turn cover songs by each other, in their own unique style. The most popular breakthrough acts from the previous series' were September, already an international star with a UK top five hit, Cry For You, and quirky indie-pop singer/songwriter Laleh. September was undoubtedly so popular because whilst being known and pigeonholed as a dance act, the show gave her a platform to show off her live vocals and adaptability by performing in a different style each week. Her take on rapper Petter's Mikrofonkåt became the biggest hit of her career and she has since dropped the September moniker, releasing a recent Swedish #1 album under her birthname Petra Marklund, with a more radio pop/MOR sound than her September material. With near two million viewers a week, almost a quarter of Sweden's population, it's clear that the idea is a popular one and it's a wonder that it hasn't been picked up in the UK yet. 

Prime time music shows are few and far between these days, with only The X Factor particularly thriving, but Så Mycket Bättre is a novel idea that I really think that the UK might take to. The only problem would be persuading big names to sign up to it. Whilst Sweden enjoy some of their biggest stars performing each others hits - Darin, Miss Li, September and Lena Philipsson to name but a few - would anybody want to see Dane Bowers take on Lisa Scott-Lee's Electric or Kavana having a go at Javine's Real Things. But with the right names it could be a perfect launchpad for newly solo artists (Shane Filan?), a way to relaunch a career by being back in the public eye every week and showing everybody why we loved them in the first place (Leona Lewis?) or even a way for an already successful artist to show how grounded they are by leaving egos at the door to cover hits by other artists and reaping the rewards with critical praise and hit singles. 

Every performance on Så Mycket Bättre goes straight onto iTunes and many of the good ones go on to dominate the charts and radio playlists for months to come. What better a way for an artist to get back into the public eye than potentially scoring seven consecutive top five singles, and then putting an album out with public interest at a high. Imagine a potential line-up of Leona Lewis, Gary Barlow, Tinie Tempah, Shane Filan, Jamelia, Dido and Daniel Bedingfield, some may be long washed up but the novelty of seeing Tinie Tempah doing a rap version of Flying Without Wings or Dido taking on Pass Out would surely entice viewers. And who knows where the odd gem or surprise might surface from? Imagine Daniel Bedingfield wowing everybody with a raw stripped back take on Bleeding Love and having an instant but unlikely career revival!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Calling all female singers aged 16-20!

A&R company Coopercasting and Sony Music are auditioning for new musical talent. They are looking for female singers aged 16-20 and auditions will be held in London throughout November.
To be considered you can e-mail a photo with a vocal sample or video and your contact details to

For further info, see here; /

Friday, 2 November 2012

Eight letters, three words, one Robbie

When Take That's Progress was released this time two years ago, everybody was raving over the bold new electro route that the group had gone down. It was felt to be the influence of the returning Robbie Williams. Robbie famously quit the band in 1995 and rejoined them four years after Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason had carved out a niche as Britian's biggest pop manband, releasing modern classics such as Patience, Shine and Rule The World. Quite unrecognisable from the cheesy boyband that they used to be, but no less successful. Robbie rejoined them, presumably because he had some unfinished business, and perhaps because his own career had been slowly dwindling since his solo heydey and utter chart domination of the late 90s/early 00s. He was slowly reintroduced to the fold via his Gary Barlow duet Shame, the lead single from his hits album In And Out Of Consciousness. That was a #2 hit and was duly followed a few weeks later by another #2 smash, Take That's The Flood. The Flood was quite unlike the rest of Progress, very anthemic and radio ready and sounding much like the output that the second incarnation of Take That had been putting out for the preceding few years. 

The only other song on Progress that sounded even vaguely like the Take That responsible for Beautiful World and The Circus was the gorgeous album closer Eight Letters, which later went on to close the Progress Live tour. Robbie was apparently the driving force behind the album version of Eight Letters, even though writing credits show all five band members names. Gary sings the album version with the rest of the band on harmonies but Robbie has taken the song back for himself as his solo version of the track features on the deluxe edition of his new album Take The Crown. He sounds just as good on the track as Gary did and for my money it's a timeless song which deserves to be a modern classic in the vein of the aformentioned Take That singles. 

As for the Barlow/Williams partnership, it looks set to be almost as fruitful as the famous songwriting partnership that Robbie used to have with Guy Chambers. The album's lead single, the catchy and cheeky Candy, is set to give the star his first UK #1 single since 2004's Radio. With a projected sale of around 120k, this to go along with his 80k+ opening for 2009 single Bodies and 230k opening for his last studio album, Reality Killed The Video Star, it seems that even a Robbie Williams 'flop' is more successful than any output from 95% of other artists!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Album review: Delta Goodrem - Child Of The Universe

2003 marked a turning point in my love for music, for the preceding five years I'd been obsessed with pretty much only dance music but a teenage girl from Australian soap opera Neighbours was about to change that. First time I heard Delta Goodrem's Born To Try I instantly loved it and I've been a huge fan ever since, to the point where I count her debut album Innocent Eyes and follow up Mistaken Identity as my two all time favourite albums. Third album Delta was a bit of a dip in form to say the least, with a lot of bland filler and uninspiring lyrics, although it did house my favourite song of hers to date, the majestic Believe Again. Long awaited fourth album Child Of The Universe has been a long time coming, five years to be exact, during which time she broke up with Brian McFadden, then dated and broke up with Nick Jonas. With her judging role on The Voice in Australia, it seems that although not the untouchable icon that she once was in Australia, she still has a huge fanbase and is constantly winning over new supporters. So after living with the album for a week or so, here is my initial assessment:

1. Child Of The Universe - The title track, and it's a perfect opener, a powerful slightly dark chorus and excellent frantic production, an instant Delta classic setting the tone for the rest of the album. 9.5/10

2. Touch - A slightly more organic song which took a while longer to grow on me but the melody eventually worked its way into my consciousness and it's lyrically excellent again. 8.5/10

3. Wish You Were Here - The album's third single, and the one released immediately before the album, so lead single depending on your definition of the concept. Wish You Were Here has already gone down a storm in Australia, hitting the top five and it's not hard to see why. The haunting ode to Delta's lifelong friend Liam O'Flaherty, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2009, is an incredibly gorgeous song, with emotion that I haven't felt in a Delta song since the 2004 album track Extraordinary Day, about her reaction to being diagnosed with cancer in July 2003. An absolute highlight of not just the album, but her career in general, the piano and string arrangement and her crisp but stunning vocals really bring the story to life, and you can almost feel what she went through. 10/10

4. Knocked Out - A real change of pace here as the jaunty pop/country track Knocked Out could have almost come from either her debut album, or Taylor Swift's back catalogue, not that either of these are anything less than a great thing. Knocked Out is an instantly catchy pure pop song with a fantastic chorus with shades of Lenka in the cute 'da da da da's that pop up throughout and then close the song. Could be a single. 9.5/10

5. Sitting On Top Of The World - The song that re-introduced us to Delta back in the first half of the year, the anthemic and positive Sitting On Top Of The World sits brilliantly next to the similarly jaunty Knocked Out. It's not hard to see why this was such a big hit in Australia, it's pure pop joy! 9.5/10

6. I'm Not Ready - Originally a duet with Michael Bolton, Delta's solo version of I'm Not Ready is probably the most fragile song on the album, really highlighting the strength of her vocals with just a piano to accompany it. I personally feel that it has far more emotion than the original duet version and it was a great choice to put it on the album. 9/10

7. Hunters And The Wolves - With every Delta album I have a 'moment', a song which seems so unique and incredible and stands head and shoulders above the rest for me, those songs were: Innocent Eyes, Extraordinary Day and Believe Again. For this album it has to be Hunters And The Wolves. This is pretty much the best song that Tori Amos never recorded, melodically, vocally, lyrically and in terms of production. This absolutely should be a single but every time Delta tries to put out something more leftfield, it seems to underperform (Mistaken Identity, Dancing With A Broken Heart), so maybe one of the more commercial songs would better suit the charts. Either way, this is an absolute gem and easily one of my favourite songs of the year thus far. 10/10


8. Dancing With A Broken Heart - The second single from the album, released in the summer, Dancing With A Broken Heart didn't find much favour with the Australian public, barely denting the top 20. It's a bit of an experimental track, moreso than most Delta singles, so perhaps that was the problem. The album version is even moreso, with a slightly dated dance beat replacing the original production, making it sound even more than ever like something Sophie B Hawkins would have released in 1994. Others have called this song a career high, I think it's fantastic but it's perhaps not as instant as some of her other singles, still damn good though. 9/10

9. Hypnotized - Back to a more jaunty pop after a bit of a mixed bag in the middle of the album. Not one of my favourites on the album, but it's still very pleasant and would be a highlight on a lot of other artist's albums! 8.5/10

10. Safe To Believe - One of the most unexpected tracks on the album, Safe To Believe is essentially a lost Mariah Carey classic from the early 90s. An R&B style ballad complete with gospel choir with a timeless melody and key change which really shows off Delta's powerhouse vocals, the real shock is towards the end where Delta even pulls off a Mariah style high pitched vocal trill. Impressive stuff. 9/10

11. The Speed Of Life - Another piano led, slightly dark track, lyrically and production wise, this one slightly reminds me of a Timbaland produced version of Joan Osborne's One Of Us once the production really kicks in halfway through the first verse. I actually probably prefer the verses to the chorus on this one, with a stronger chorus it would probably be a mark higher. 8.5/10

12. War On Love - An instant fan favourite, it's easy to see why. Unlike Delta's usual song structure, this goes straight into the chorus before going into the verses. Oddly, the structure of the verses is almost exactly the same as the previous song, this one also being vaguely reminiscent of Joan Osborne's One Of Us! War Of Love however does what Speed Of Life didn't and provides a stellar chorus that has echoes of Kelly Clarkson's Behind These Hazel Eyes melodically. 9.5/10

13. I Lost All Love 4 You - Probably my least favourite song on the album, not that it's bad but there's an air of filler to it and I think the word 'for' would have suited Delta more than the number '4' in the song title. Minor niggles aside, it's a pleasant mid-tempo pop song with a strong vocal from Delta and would have made a nice b-side. 7.5/10

14. When My Stars Come Out - This is absolutely excellent, a definite personal highlight of the back end of the album, this fast paced pop song sounds like it's come straight from the Grease soundtrack or an S Club 7 album and sounds like it could have been written alongside the similarly bubbly single Sitting On Top Of The World. It marks yet another different sound for the album too, fantastic pop with a brilliant and instantly infectious chorus! 9.5/10

15. Control - The official album closer, although I'll also be reviewing the two iTunes Australia bonus tracks. Control is another slower tempo quite dark track, reflecting as most of the album does on her various relationships and breakdowns over the past few years since the last album. Control is a good song, one of the best on the album lyrically, but probably not musically, although her vocals are incredibly good on the brooding chorus. 8/10

16. Alcohol - This gives me vibes of Mistaken Identity hidden track Nobody Listened. Suitably dark, and clearly about a certain ex boyfriend's addiction to drink, perhaps this is why the track was relegated to iTunes bonus track status. It's a crying shame that it was because it's one of the strongest tracks of the era with a punchy and powerful chorus and vocal delivery and brutally honest lyrics. 9.5/10

17. No Communication - This track however, can keep its iTunes bonus track status. It's actually better than a couple of the main album tracks and perhaps more 'classic Delta' than most, it sounds like a lost b-side from the Mistaken Identity era. Another lyrically honest asssessment of a relationship breakdown, it's melodically strong but not amazing. 8/10

Overall - This is my most listened to album in years, as a huge Delta fan it's probably more difficult than most to be particularly objective with her music but then I'm the first to call out third album Delta as being hugely underwhelming in parts. Perhaps Delta sounds better to me when dealing with relationship breakups and life's trials and traumas than when singing about being content and everything being perfect, a la the majority of the Delta album. She certainly has her mojo back and Child Of The Universe is a massive return to form, fusing gorgeous dark ballads and mid-tempos with jaunty Tori Amos style uptempo pop via country, gospel and electro on the way. Yet despite this relative lack of cohesion, at no point does it feel like a mess.

A near perfect fourth outing for Delta, my only minor niggle is that Sitting On Top Of The World's fantastic b-side Uncovered probably deserved a place somewhere on the album, perhaps in place of I Lost All Love 4 You, and iTunes bonus track Alcohol was worth a lot more than just being that. Nevertheless, this is a stunning album. If you get the deluxe version you also get a bonus disc with the majority of the album tracks reworked into more acoustic/organic productions, which is also absolutely fantastic and well worth checking out. Just one thing, release it in the UK Delta! You had five top ten hits here before abandoning us straight after scoring your second top three hit. Radio 2 would absolutely lap this album up and with promo I could actually see the album being fairly successful here! 10/10

Does it feel like home?

I was introduced to the music of Ivelin through two members of songwriting outfit ChocoFactory whom I recently met at a music industry gathering. Ivelin's debut single Feel Like Home is an isntantly infectious pop/dance song with excellent production and lyrics and Ivelin has a strong and unique voice. Check it out!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

New music from old favourites: Girls Aloud, Steps and Whigfield!

Back in time a little as three acts who have all had huge chart topping success at some point in the past 20 years have regrouped or returned with stellar pop songs! Here's a mini-roundup of my favourite three;

Girls Aloud - Something New

Rumoured to be their final ever single, and presumably the lead single from their new upcoming Greatest Hits album, to mark 10 years (!) since they were formed on Popstars: The Rivals, Girls Aloud are back! In the three and a half years that have passed since last single Untouchable, Cheryl has become one of the UK's biggest pop stars in her own right with the chart topping hits Fight For This Love, Promise This and Call My Name. Nicola and Nadine had less successful solo careers, albeit with some high quality pop produced, certainly in the case of the former. Kimberley is currently amongst the line up of Strictly Come Dancing and Sarah has been unusually low key. But they've finally regrouped and are back to reclaim their title of Britain's premiere girlband from the likes of Little Mix, Stooshe and The Saturdays. Something New is typically GA, a big Xenomania production with pulsing synths that wouldn't have sounded out of place on 2007's superb Tangled Up album. It's a big brash pop anthem with a lot of attitude and a big chorus. In a nutshell: it's brilliant, welcome back!

Steps - Light Up The World

Having reformed last year, 90s pop group Steps went on to unexpectedly huge success all over again. The Ultimate Collection stormed to No.1 in the UK album chart and they sold out a huge arena tour. Fast forward a year and they're set to release their first new studio album since 2000 next month. Light Up The World is a wintery album, mainly consisting of festive covers, but lead single Light Up The World is an original song, and their first new single since the limp Words Are Not Enough in December 2001. This however is far better, a Steps ballad/mid-tempo done right. The song is instantly infectious with an earworm of a chorus that sounds like a mixture of Stephen Gately's New Beginning and something from Emma Bunton's 60s/Bond theme inspired 2004 album Free Me. They all get a turn on vocals, Faye opens the song, followed by a bridge from Lisa, Claire and H sing the second verse and Lee gets a solo turn towards the end. It's doubtful whether this song will continue their streak of UK top five singles as the singles market has vastly changed in the past decade, and I'm unsure as to whether they will get much support from radio/TV this time around, but it's a triumphant comeback single that deserves to be heard, and at least sell some albums for them!

Whigfield - 4Ever

And moving even further back through pop history, Whigfield's crowning moment of glory came with 1994's huge million selling hit Saturday Night. Danish singer Sanne Carlson now returns in her well known moniker with an absolutely excellent pop song, her best since that huge smash of 1994, although Think Of You put up a hue fight for that title too. The second single from her surprisingly excellent new album W (also check out the song As I Go), 4Ever is a fresh electro-pop anthem that's like a mixture of Robyn, Kylie Minogue and Tove Styrke, but retains the Whigfield charm, and she barely looks like she's aged a day in the video! An unexpectedly great return!

The return of dance music as a commercial force!

2012 has been arguably the most successful year for dance music since 2000, with UK #1 singles from David Guetta & Sia's Titanium, DJ Fresh & Rita Ora's Hot Right Now, Rudimental and John Newman's Feel The Love, Sam & The Womp's Bom Bom and Swedish House Mafia's Don't You Worry Child. Calvin Harris' new single Sweet Nothing looks set for the top of the charts this weekend to make it another victory for dance music, after his past four singles as a lead artist - Bounce, Feel So Close, Let's Go & We'll Be Coming Back all stalled at No.2, positiviely Sash-esque, the difference being that Calvin has topped the UK chart in the past. Calvin also had involvement in three other UK chart toppers in the past year - Rihanna's ubiquitous We Found Love, Cheryl's Call My Name and his remix of Florence + The Machine's Spectrum, the latter two being another couple of half triumphs for dance music at the top of the charts, or at least music influenced by the dance genre! And let's not forget Tulisa's debut solo single Young, which was essentially a Cascada song fronted by the famous X Factor judge and N-Dubz singer! 

After the dark days of the genre commercially in the mid-00s where looped 80s samples were in vogue and landfill indie ruled the charts, where in 2005 only Madonna's pop anthem Hung Up and Crazy Frog's dire Axel F had the smallest of links to the genre, it now seems to be one of the most popular types of music once again. It's fantastic to see that these chart toppers all have one thing in common, they're all completely original songs. No covers, no samples, more thought is going back into dance music once again and the artists responsible for these hits are reaping the rewards.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

An international year for UK #1's!

Swedish House Mafia are looking increasingly likely to score their first UK No.1 single at the weekend, with their final release, the euphoric dance anthem Don't You Worry Child, which features fellow Swede John Martin on vocals. Should they achieve the feat it will be yet another country to add to the list of acts that have had No.1 singles in the UK during 2012. In a singles chart that has been dominated by US and homegrown acts atop the listings over the past few years, the biggest selling single of the year is from Belgian born Australian Gotye's duet with with New Zealand's Kimbra, Somebody That I Used To Know, whilst the second biggest seller is from Canadaian Carly Rae Jepsen and in third place it's French DJ David Guetta's collaboration with Australian singer Sia, Titanium. 

Aside from these three international number one hits, and outside of the usual haul coming from the UK and the US, there have been chart toppers from Barbados (Cover Drive and Rihanna), Ireland (The Script), Holland (Eva Simons) and even South Korea thanks to PSY's mammoth worldwide K-pop smash Gangnam Style! Europe's biggest hit of the summer was arguably of course Swedish singer Loreen's Eurovision winning Euphoria, which even went top three in the UK! Hopefully this is proof that radio and TV will start to become more open to supporting music from countries other than the two big hitters, because there are hundreds of domestic hits going unheard outside their native territory each year that deserve the mass exposure!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Are you a talented musician or know somebody that is?

A&R company Coopercasting and a major label are auditioning for new musical talent. They are looking for charismatic and talented vocalists in all genres for a number of upcoming projects. Auditions are to be held in London later in the month.
To be considered, email a photo with a vocal sample or video and contact details to
For further info, see here; /

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

ABBA's finest hour re-released and reviewed

The Visitors was Swedish supergroup ABBA's final studio album, and was originally released over thirty years ago, in 1981. With the 80s getting well underway the band were moving away from their pure pop sound that had made them so popular in the 70s, this was a far more subdued affair. The album topped the UK chart but surprisingly didn't spawn any #1 singles, One Of Us coming closest, peaking at #3. It was to be their last ever top ten hit. To follow is information regarding the release and my review of the opus, bonus tracks included!

April 23rd sees the release of The Visitors Deluxe Edition. As with previous releases in the Deluxe Edition series, this version of ABBA’s final album offers a DVD of archive material along with CD bonus tracks – including the demo medley From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel, the first previously unreleased ABBA recordings since 1994!

The Deluxe Edition of The Visitors, ABBA’s eighth and final studio album, originally released in 1981, features single hits such as One Of Us, Head Over Heels and When All Is Said And Done, along with Slipping Through My Fingers, a highlight in one of the more poignant moments in the musical Mamma Mia!

Like the previous Deluxe Editions of ABBA’s albums, The Visitors will feature several bonus selections along with a DVD of rare and previously unreleased material from the archives.

For ABBA fans, the most sensational inclusion in the package will be the previously unreleased track, From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel (demos). This is the first time since the Thank You For The Music box set in 1994 that ABBA have opened the doors to the tape vaults to release previously unheard music from the group’s heyday.


1. The Visitors - The title track of the album and released as a single in the US, it was a daring album opener, the first half of the song sounding completley un-ABBA with its psychadelic sound. Electro and rock elements are introduced as the track builds and Frida's lead vocal is confident and mysterious in equal measure. A brilliant opener that sets the standard. 9/10

2. Head Over Heels - The second British single from the album, Head Over Heels criminally peaked at a lowly #25 in the UK as the band's star was apparently fading. Unjust because it's at least as good as half of their 70s hits, and one of the most early ABBA-esque on the album with the big chorus, harmonies and pop production. A true lost 'hit'. 9.5/10

3. When All Is Said And Done - The second Frida lead on the album, When All Is Said And Done was another big pop song. A single in a few territories but sadly not the UK, it's as schlager as ABBA were likely to come at this point in their career. Very melodic, compact and instant, it would have made a great Eurovision entry. 9.5/10

4. Soldiers - A change in pace with the more atmospheric album track Soldiers, moody verses and production give way to a surprisingly chirpy chorus. It's all very early 80s and certainly one of the album tracks most influenced by the music climate of the time. Not my favourite ABBA song but definitely an interesting diversion. 8.5/10

5. I Let The Music Speak - A fairly dramatic song musically considering how slow it is for the most part, the minor chords make for an engaging, almost haunting listen at times. In other parts it sounds so theatrical that it feels tailor made for a musical. Excellent. 9/10

6. One Of Us - The lead single from the album in the UK, the Agnetha led One Of Us is a big melodic pop song with a hint of a cod-reggae beat going on underneath the musical layers. The band's last major international hit, it was a glorious last hurrah and definitely underrated in their hit canon. 9.5/10

7. Two For The Price Of One - Onto a track sung by Benny and Bjorn now. It's a chirpy, cheesy pop song with unwelcome telephone ringing and what feels like a brass band playing at the end. It's not terrible per se, it just doesn't suit this album at all, completely breaks up the flow and feels rather novelty in places. 6/10

8. Slipping Through My Fingers - Introduced to much of the general public through the Mamma Mia film, this is a stunning ballad sung by Agnetha focusing on the tale of a mother and her young daughter, sung from the mother's perspective as she watches the girl grow up too quickly. Released as a single in Japan, it's easily my favourite track on the original The Visitors and one of my favourite ABBA songs. A beautiful song which Agnetha really sells to the listener emotionally. 10/10

9. Like An Angel Passing Through My Room - Notable for being the final track on the final studio album, Frida leads a very sparse, subtle but effective track that never really builds like the majority of ABBA's material. The simplicity is a huge selling point for the song though, a great ethereal closing track. Madonna clearly saw the merit in the song as she covered it in 2000 as part of the sessions with William Orbit for her Music album. It never made it onto the album but did eventually leak a few years later. 9/10

Bonus tracks

10. Should I Laugh Or Cry - As with the other Deluxe re-issues there are a number of bonus tracks for this release of The Visitors. Should I Laugh Or Cry was the only one that was actually intended at some point for this album. It was left off but was used as a b-side on the One Of Us single in the UK. The production is very typical of a lot of The Visitors, very of its time with electro influences, it was a lot more 'modern' than the ABBA of five years previous. Would have fit in perfectly as track 7 on the main album, with Two For The Price Of One relegated to b-side (or preferably cutting room floor) status. 8.5/10

11. I Am The City - ABBA split halfway through the recording sessions for the ninth studio album that never materialised. Luckily, we eventually got to hear all of the tracks that were finished with the exception of Just Like That. Finally released as part of More ABBA Gold in 1993, I Am The City was far more of its era than perhaps anything they'd done before, the harmonies were spot on but the jaunty production was similar to a lot of the electro pop hits coming out of the UK and US at the time. 8.5/10

12. You Owe Me One - Also intended to be on the ninth album, You Owe Me One as good as confirmed that much of the album was destined to be a return to the pure pop of the past. A very happy and melodic track, it was released as the b-side to Under Attack but would have made an excellent album track. 9/10

13. Cassandra - Released as the b-side to The Day Before You Came, Cassandra was more melancholy than the other post-The Visitors tracks. A lovely, swaying production accompanies a fairly subtle melody, definitely not single material but very nice nonetheless. 8.5/10

14. Under Attack - Released as part of the 1982 compilation The Singles: The First Ten Years, Under Attack was ABBA's final 'new' single released in the UK and peaked at #26, where it spent four weeks in a row. A short and sharp chorus, the song isn't anything particularly amazing in my opinion but it's still good. 8/10

15. The Day Before You Came - The Day Before You Came was the lead single from The Singles: The First Ten Years in the UK but only managed a #32 peak. A really atmospheric single, delivered superbly by Agnetha (with the legendary flirting on the Stockholm train video), this was moody early 80s electro-pop at its absolute finest. The final song they ever recorded and what a way to go out! It was recently voted a surprisingly high 3rd in an ITV poll to find the nation's favourite ABBA single. Safe to say it's built up a deserved cult following since its release. Easily one of my favourite songs of the 80s, had the never released ninth album been built around this song, it would have been something very special indeed. I worry for the British public of 1982 that they couldn't see the brilliance in this track, no matter how in or out of vogue ABBA might have been at the time. 10/10

16. From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel - The major draw for any ABBA fan to buy this deluxe edition would be this track. Never before released, this is a near nine minute medley that comprises various demo versions of the final track on The Visitors, Like An Angel Passing Through My Room. Comprising takes of the song with different band members singing, to a version with disco production, it's an intriguing listen, if only to see how many times the band went through the recording process of this song before finally settling on using the eventual album version. It's impossible to give a rating to a medley of demos but it's well worth a listen.

Overall verdict - In my opinion The Visitors is one of the greatest albums of the 80s and definitely up there as one of ABBA's finest, if not their best. It may not have been reflected in its sales and chart success compared to their earlier releases, but it's stood the test of time convincingly and proves that they were far more than just a disco or schlager band. The re-release pulls together the tracks meant for the unreleased ninth album and as such this deluxe album makes for a fascinating look at the musical output of the last couple of years of Sweden's greatest export, and one of the world's most famous pop acts of all time. 9.5/10