Saturday, 27 December 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 29/12/14

Top 10 Singles

1. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (1) (CR-2-1-1)

2. Take That - These Days (2) (CR-2-3-3-4-5-6-2-1-1-1-2-2)
3. Nádine - Skildery (5) (CR-10-5-3)
4. Madonna - Rebel Heart (3) (CR-5-4-3-4)
5. Madonna - Living For Love (NEW) (CR-5)
6. Nádine - Juvenile (4) (CR-9-3-2-3-4-6)
7. Taylor Swift - Blank Space (Re-entry) (CR-8-OUT-7)
8. AronChupa - I'm An Albatraoz (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Olly Murs feat Demi Lovato - Up (NEW) (CR-9)
10. The Veronicas - You Ruin Me (7) (CR-9-4-1-1-1-2-2-2-1-1-1-2-4-5-7-10)

Top 10 Albums

1. Take That - III (1) (CR-1-1-1-1)

2. Taylor Swift - 1989 (4) (CR-1-1-1-2-3-3-4-4-2)
3. The Veronicas - The Veronicas (2) (CR-1-1-2-3-2-3)
4. Sheppard - Bombs Away (5) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-1-2-3-3-4-4-5-5-4)
5. Ed Sheeran - x (6) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-4-4-6-7-8-8-6-7-9-8-7-9-10-10-7-6-5)
6. Carrie Underwood - Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (3) (CR-2-3-6)
7. Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint (7) (CR-7-7)
8. Now That's What I Call 2003 (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Calvin Harris - Motion (Re-entry) (CR-8-2-5-10-OUT-9)
10. Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds (Re-entry) (CR-3-3-4-6-OUT-10)

Friday, 26 December 2014

Top 100 songs of 2014

These are my top 100 favourite songs of 2014. It's been a very good year overall but the top 12 here in particular are my absolute favourites. I've included links to every song in the top 20.

100. Public Service Broadcasting - Night Mail
99. Klangkarussell - Symmetry
98. Ella Henderson - Yours
97. Blonde feat Melissa Steel - I Loved You
96. Conchita Wurst - Rise Like A Phoenix
95. Meadowlark - Family Tree
94. The Common Linnets - When Love Was King
93. Alcazar - Good Lovin
92. A. G. Cook - Beautiful
91. Paul McCartney - Hope For the Future
90. Kölsch feat Gregor Schwellenbach - Cassiopeia
89. Firelight - Coming Home
88. The Veronicas - If You Love Someone
87. Pharrell Williams - Happy
86. Cheryl Cole feat Tinie Tempah - Crazy Stupid Love
85. Röyksopp & Robyn - Do It Again
84. Delta Goodrem - Love Thy Will Be Done
83. Nádine - Skildery
82. Tove Lo - Not On Drugs
81. Andriette & Adam Tas - Ek Sal
80. Sophia Del Carmen feat Pitbull - Lipstick
79. Manda - Glow
78. Sheppard - Let Me Down Easy
77. Colbie Caillat - If You Love Me Let Me Go
76. The Veronicas - Born Bob Dylan
75. Shakira - Empire
74. Burial - Come Down To Us
73. Vance Joy - Riptide
72. Maroon 5 - Feelings
71. Ed Sheeran - Sing
70. Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
69. The Saturdays - What Are You Waiting For?
68. Agnes - Instant Repeater
67. Fox Stevenson - Tico
66. Charli XCX - Boom Clap
65. Madonna - Rebel Heart
64. Public Service Broadcasting - Spitfire
63. Taylor Swift - Out Of The Woods
62. Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne - Real Love
61. Sweet California - This Is the Life
60. Tove Styrke - Ego
59. Helena Paparizou - Survivor
58. Sheppard - Shine My Way
57. Cash Cash feat Bebe Rexha - Take Me Home
56. A Great Big World feat Christina Aguilera - Say Something
55. Rae Morris feat Fryars - Cold
54. Sanna Nielsen - Trouble
53. Goldfish - Moonwalk Away (Moonlanding Mix)
52. Ace Wilder - Busy Doin' Nothin'
51. Martin Garrix & Firebeatz - Helicopter
50. Seinabo Sey - Younger
49. Kylie Minogue - Into the Blue
48. Sia - Chandelier
47. Tove Styrke - Borderline
46. Professor Green feat Tori Kelly - Lullaby
45. Minx feat Hannah Joy - Hold On
44. Martin Tungevaag - Wicked Wonderland
43. Route 94 feat Jess Glynne - My Love
42. Coldplay - A Sky Full of Stars
41. Tom Odell - Real Love
40. The Common Linnets - Lovers & Liars
39. Marble Sounds - Leave A Light On
38. Ryan Hemsworth feat Tomggg - Cream Soda
37. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
36. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj - Bang Bang
35. Sheppard - Something's Missing
34. Mr Probz - Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)
33. Duke Dumont feat Jax Jones - I Got U
32. Pamela Myburgh - Fool
31. Lilly Wood & The Prick and Robin Schulz - Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)
30. The Madden Brothers - We Are Done
29. Nádine - Juvenile
28. Ed Sheeran - Don't
27. The Common Linnets - Give Me A Reason
26. Ella Henderson - Ghost
25. Idina Menzel - Let It Go
24. Tove Lo - Timebomb
23. Sheppard - Lingering
22. Colbie Caillat - Try
21. Katy B - Crying for No Reason
20. Sigma - Nobody to Love
19. Shakira feat Rihanna - Can't Remember To Forget You
18. Rae Morris - Do You Even Know?
17. Andreas Bourani - Auf Uns
16. Pitbull feat Ke$ha - Timber
15. John Martin - Anywhere For You
14. Walk The Moon - Shut Up and Dance
13. Safari - I Need You
12. Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud
11. Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco
10. RAM & Susana - RAMelia (Tribute To Amelia)
9. Helene Fischer - Atemlos Durch Die Nacht
8. The Common Linnets - Calm After The Storm
7. Molly - Children Of The Universe
6. Take That - These Days
5. Clean Bandit feat Jess Glynne - Rather Be
4. Sheppard - Geronimo
3. The Veronicas - You Ruin Me
2. Sanna Nielsen - Undo
1. Sheppard - A Grade Playa

The first time I listened to Sheppard's album Bombs Away, A Grade Playa hugely stood out to me. I'd assumed that George Sheppard was the Australian band's only main singer but this track made me realise that his green-haired sister Amy is just as capable of fronting a really great tune.

The lyrics of a woman scorned, and clearly not to be messed with, are married up to a really powerful pop-rock production, my favourite part of which is 
without a doubt the harmonies which are just one of many areas where Sheppard really excel as a band. 

George joins in for the excellent 'go on, go on, go on, go on, be gone!' post-chorus before Amy jumps back into the second verse with great lyrics such as 'if there were a medal for the biggest sleaze, there wouldn't be any other nominees, I'm guessing all your lies are a blessing in disguise for me'.

The bassline kicks in harder for the second chorus before the sublime harmonies make an emphatic return. The music slows down for a delicately sung line from Amy after the middle eight before a wonderfully unexpected key changes powers through. 

The production becomes almost dubstep-like at this point, with the punching bassline adding yet another layer to a brilliantly complex pop song. And then the final 25 seconds, a reprise of the 'go on, go on, go on, go on, be gone' harmonies, make for a perfect outro.

Elsewhere in my top ten of the year are three Eurovision entries; Sanna Nielsen's powerful and dramatic piano ballad Undo, which came third for Sweden (#2), Molly's Children Of The Universe, which finished 17th for the UK (#7) and Calm After The Storm by The Common Linnets, which finished second for The Netherlands (#8).

UK #1's are represented by Clean Bandit and their massive dance hit, the unique and brilliant Rather Be (#5), and Take That's excellent comeback single These Days (#6). Elsewhere there's more from Sheppard, with the infectious Australian chart topper Geronimo (#4) and another piano ballad, and indeed another Australian #1 single, in the form of You Ruin Me by The Veronicas (#3).

German schlager singer Helene Fischer's huge domestic hit Atemlos Durch Die Nacht is at #9 while Dutch trance producer RAM's beautiful RAMelia (Tribute To Amelia), a touching piano ballad meets trance tribute to his wife who passed away last year, finishes at #10.

Many other big smash hits also make the top 40 including Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud (#12), Pitbull and Ke$ha's Timber (#16), Sigma's Nobody To Love (#20), Idina Menzel's Frozen anthem Let It Go (#25), Ella Henderson's Ghost (#26), Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj's Bang Bang (#36), Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars (#37) and the two huge hits remixed by Robin Schulz; Prayer In C by Lilly Wood & The Prick (#31) and Waves by Mr Probz (#34).

Top 40 albums of 2014

The first of my two end of year countdowns, here are my top 40 favourite albums of 2014!

40. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

39. Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
38. Christina Perri - Head Or Heart
37. Sweet California - Break Of Day
36. The Pierces - Creation
35. Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds
34. Sarah McLachlan - Shine On
33. David Guetta - Listen
32. Public Service Broadcasting - Inform - Educate - Entertain
31. Carrie Underwood - Greatest Hits: Decade #1
30. Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman
29. Mariah Carey - Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse
28. Missy Higgins - Oz
27. Calvin Harris - Motion
26. Sanna Nielsen - 7
25. Armin Van Buuren - A State Of Trance 2014
24. Helene Fischer - Farbenspiel
23. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust
22. The Saturdays - Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits
21. Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Cheek To Cheek
20. The Arrows - Disaster Queen
19. Ola - Carelssly Yours
18. Agnes - Collection
17. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear
16. Lily Allen - Sheezus
15. Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ
14. Colbie Caillat - Gypsy Heart
13. Maroon 5 - V
12. Ella Henderson - Chapter One
11. Leddra Chapman - My Mother's Mind


10. Clean Bandit - New Eyes

Highlights: Rather Be, Real Love, Extraordinary, Mozart's House, Up Again, Rihanna, Stronger

9. Katy B - Little Red

Highlights: Crying For No Reason, 5AM, Aaliyah, Sky's The Limit, Still, Blue Eyes

8. Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once

Highlights: Into The Blue, Kiss Me Once, Feels So Good, Les Sex, Sexy Love, I Was Gonna Cancel

7. Take That - III

Highlights: These Days, Lovelife, Into The Wild, Flaws, Amazing, Get Ready For It, Higher Than Higher

6. Shakira - Shakira.

Highlights: Can't Remember To Forget You, Empire, Dare (La La La), Medicine, Spotlight, Cut Me Deep

5. The Veronicas - The Veronicas

Highlights: You Ruin Me, Born Bob Dylan, If You Love Someone, Always, Cold, Line Of Fire

4. Taylor Swift - 1989

Highlights: Out Of The Woods, Shake It Off, Blank Space, Style, I Know Places, Wonderland

3. Ed Sheeran - x

Highlights: Thinking Out Loud, Don't, Sing, Nina, Afire Love, The Man, I See Fire

2. The Common Linnets - The Common Linnets

Highlights: Calm After The Storm, Give Me A Reason, Lovers & Liars, When Love Was King, Time Has No Mercy, Before Complete Surrender, Hungry Hands, Still Loving After You

1. Sheppard - Bombs Away

Highlights: Every song


A very strong year for albums overall, and far better than last year with the top two here actually being my favourite albums not just of 2014 but of the decade to date.

Looking at the top ten, Clean Bandit and Katy B's albums proved once again why British dance music is completely on form right now while the latest albums from some of my favourite artists - Kylie, Shakira and Take That - were all as good as I could have hoped for. The latter especially adjusting well to the loss of Jason and departure once again of Robbie Williams. For a band that could have so easily slipped into cash-in covers albums at this point in their career, they're still producing top quality, contemporary pop. 

Australian twin sisters The Veronicas never fail to impress me and their eponymous third album continues that trend, taking the best bits of both of their previous albums and delivering another excellent LP. Taylor Swift continues to get better and better with each album and has now completed her transformation from country singer to global popstar with 1989, an album that sounds like it has as many potential hit singles on it as Katy Perry's monster 2010 album Teenage Dream.

I loved Ed Sheeran's debut album + but many found it underwhelming and called it too safe and MOR considering the variation and quality of his many independently released EPs from the years before he became popular in the mainstream. x is in a completely different league altogether to +, Ed's craft has come on in leaps and bounds in the three years between albums and it's a stunning listen from start to finish. 

There's plenty to choose from for fans of MOR balladry but his unique edge still shines through in songs like The Man and Afire Love while the three singles have all been perfect choices, and all incredibly varied in style. Ed just seems to get better and better.

Dutch country act The Common Linnets, who represented their country at Eurovision this year with the subtle ballad Calm After The Storm, delivered a brilliant debut album; my favourite country album since Carrie Underwood's 2005 debut Some Hearts. Packed with instant hooks, lush harmonies and care and raw emotion throughout, nearly all of the songs on here are so beautifully constructed that they already sound like timeless country classics.

Australian band Sheppard's debut album Bombs Away is the most consistently strong album I've heard since Lady Gaga's 2009 project The Fame Monster. Every song on it is really fantastic. The four singles - Let Me Down Easy, Geronimo, Something's Missing and Smile - are all really different sounding but fundamentally pop-influenced tracks while some of the album tracks are even better; A Grade Playa is pop perfection while Lingering is a gorgeous ballad with lush harmonies.

I saw the band live in Camden in August and it was easily the best gig I've seen in years, they have so much energy and passion for what they do and it's incredible how accomplished the show was for a band with just one album under their belt. Bombs Away is quite easily my favourite album of the decade so far and I couldn't recommend it any more highly, there's something on it for every pop fan.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 22/12/14

Top 10 Singles

1. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (2) (CR-2-1)
2. Take That - These Days (1) (CR-2-3-3-4-5-6-2-1-1-1-2)
3. Madonna - Rebel Heart (4) (CR-5-4-3)
4. Nádine - Juvenile (3) (CR-9-3-2-3-4)
5. Nádine - Skildery (10) (CR-10-5)
6. Ella Henderson - Yours (7) (CR-7-6)
7. The Veronicas - You Ruin Me (5) (CR-9-4-1-1-1-2-2-2-1-1-1-2-4-5-7)
8. Martin Tungevaag - Wicked Wonderland (6) (CR-9-5-5-3-6-8)
9. Ben Haenow - Something I Need (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Take That - Lovelife (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums

1. Take That - III (1) (CR-1-1-1)

2. The Veronicas - The Veronicas (3) (CR-1-1-2-3-2)
3. Carrie Underwood - Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (2) (CR-2-3)
4. Taylor Swift - 1989 (4) (CR-1-1-1-2-3-3-4-4)
5. Sheppard - Bombs Away (5) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-1-2-3-3-4-4-5-5)
6. Ed Sheeran - x (7) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-4-4-6-7-8-8-6-7-9-8-7-9-10-10-7-6)
7. Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint (NEW) (CR-7)
8. Charli XCX - Sucker (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman (10) (CR-3-6-6-10-9)
10. David Guetta - Listen (8) (CR-2-5-8-10)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 15/12/14

Top 10 Singles

1. Take That - These Days (1) (CR-2-3-3-4-5-6-2-1-1-1)

2. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (NEW) (CR-2)
3. Nádine - Juvenile (2) (CR-9-3-2-3)
4. Madonna - Rebel Heart (5) (CR-5-4)
5. The Veronicas - You Ruin Me (4) (CR-9-4-1-1-1-2-2-2-1-1-1-2-4-5)
6. Martin Tungevaag - Wicked Wonderland (3) (CR-9-5-5-3-6)
7. Ella Henderson - Yours (NEW) (CR-7)
8. Taylor Swift - Blank Space (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Sarah Cracknell - Ready Or Not (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Nádine - Skildery (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums

1. Take That - III (1) (CR-1-1)
2. Carrie Underwood - Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (NEW) (CR-2)
3. The Veronicas - The Veronicas (2) (CR-1-1-2-3)
4. Taylor Swift - 1989 (3) (CR-1-1-1-2-3-3-4)
5. Sheppard - Bombs Away (4) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-1-2-3-3-4-4-5)
6. Bastille - Vs. (Other People's Heartache,Pt. III) (NEW) (CR-6)
7. Ed Sheeran - x (10) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-4-4-6-7-8-8-6-7-9-8-7-9-10-10-7)
8. David Guetta - Listen (5) (CR-2-5-8)
9. Robbie Williams - Under The Radar - Vol 1 (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman (6) (CR-3-6-6-10)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 8/12/14

Top 10 Singles

1. Take That - These Days (1) (CR-2-3-3-4-5-6-2-1-1)

2. Nádine - Juvenile (3) (CR-9-3-2)
3. Martin Tungevaag - Wicked Wonderland (5) (CR-9-5-5-3)
4. The Veronicas - You Ruin Me (2) (CR-9-4-1-1-1-2-2-2-1-1-1-2-4)
5. Madonna - Rebel Heart (NEW) (CR-5)
6. The Veronicas - If You Love Someone (8) (CR-8-6)
7. The Veronicas - Born Bob Dylan (4) (CR-4-7)
8. Blonde feat Melissa Steel - I Loved You (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Union J - You Got It All (NEW) (CR-9)
10. James Newton Howard & Jennifer Lawrence - The Hanging Tree (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums

1. Take That - III (NEW) (CR-1)

2. The Veronicas - The Veronicas (1) (CR-1-1-2)
3. Taylor Swift - 1989 (3) (CR-1-1-1-2-3-3)
4. Sheppard - Bombs Away (4) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-1-2-3-3-4-4)
5. David Guetta - Listen (2) (CR-2-5)
6. Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman (6) (CR-3-6-6)
7. Now 89 (5) (CR-5-7)
8. Absolute Dance Winter 2015 (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Tone Damli - Di Første Jul (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Ed Sheeran - x (10) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-4-4-6-7-8-8-6-7-9-8-7-9-10-10)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Five brilliant Xmas songs you probably haven't heard...

In a December radio landscape saturated by Mariah Carey, The Pogues, Wizzard, Slade, Wham! and Shakin' Stevens, it's hard for any other acts to get a look in. 

Spare a thought for the many Christmas songs released each year that completely slip under the radar either never to be heard again or to be added to the playlists of a select few without ever receiving the universal adoration that they deserve. Here are five of my favourite lost Christmas songs:

Aisha Kinzey - Bring Back The Magic (Christmas Day)

This song was written by a friend of mine Paul Trigwell along with a group of other songwriters including talented Alex Lambie who sadly passed away recently. The song is being repromoted this year and it deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Aisha Kinzey is a great singer while the production is pure Christmas through and through, it's instantly catchy and even fits in a key change!

Fallen Millie - Want To Be (Under Your Christmas Tree)

I stumbled across this song a couple of weeks before Christmas 2010 and played the hell out of it right up to the big day. I've come back to it every year since - a string laden pure pop song with Christmas bells, heart-warming strings and fantastic harmonies from a young girlband that I know literally nothing about. They don't seem to have released any other singles and the song hasn't even cracked 2,500 views on Youtube. The only time I've heard it outside my iPod was in a shoe shop randomly last year. The campaign to make this a future classic starts here! 

The Florin Street Band - My Favourite Time Of Year

This song has over 2 million views on Youtube and is apparently the theme to ITV's Text Santa. All this has completely bypassed me because anyone I talk to about the song never seems to have heard it before. The Florin Street Band are a charming act promoting the more traditional Christmas messages and imagery in this video and the magic of the song speaks for itself. I'm incredibly confused as to why this isn't a Christmas classic yet, it's melodic, timeless and fantastic.

Nádine feat Soweto Gospel Choir - Mary's Boy Child

South African singer Nádine has become one of my favourite artists over the past few years, a good old fashioned pure pop singer with an innocent charm. Her singles I Will Be Strong and Juvenile are my favourites of hers but in 2012 she released an album of Christmas covers (and a couple of originals) called, cunningly, Christmas In South Africa. The whole album was fantastic but my two highlights were her cover of We Wish You A Merry Christmas and the above version of Mary's Boy Child with the Soweto Gospel Choir, which is incredibly joyous and merry. Sadly there's only a live version on Youtube but check it out on the album which is on Spotify/Deezer/iTunes.

Sara Bareilles - Love Is Christmas

Californian singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is of course best known for her 2008 hit Love Song, but she's continued to impress since then. In 2011 she released this festive offering, an incredibly beautiful and warm piano ballad with a subtle string section enhancing the festive sentiment of love and togetherness being more important at Christmas than gifts and decorations. Also listen to Sara's other seasonal offering Winter Song, a collaboration with Ingrid Michaelson which inexplicably got to No.2 in the Irish charts a few years ago.

Also check out:

A cheesy but charming, fun hi-NRG cover of the festive standard from everyone's favourite German Eurodance act, from their 2012 album It's Christmas Time.

A relaxing Christmas by the beach, courtesy of the Californian singer.

A stellar festive offering from the Dutch country act that finished 2nd in Eurovision this year.

A gorgeous cover of the John Lennon classic from Australia's finest soapstar turned popstar. It was the b-side to Not Me, Not I in the UK in 2003 and the double a-side to Predictable in Australia, so technically a No.1 single there.

A Christmas schlager ballad from Sweden's finest modern dansband.

An alternative choice; an atmospheric gloomy electronic track from Theo and Adam.

An emotive piano ballad from the Norwegian singer - already a Christmas standard in her home country, and deservedly so.

A brilliant gothic metal reworking of the 80s UK classic from animated adventure The Snowman.

Pet Shop Boys - It Doesn't Often Snow At Christmas

An excellent 1997 fan club single overhauled and given a new lease of life as part of the duo's 2009 Christmas EP.

An early 90s gem from Croydon's finest indie-pop band. 

A melancholy strummer from Sweden's finest pop-folk girlband.