Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top 100 songs of 2016

100. Chloe Rose - For Me
99. Real Lies - One Club Town
98. LP - Lost On You
97. Calvin Harris feat Rihanna - This Is What You Came For
96. Sia - Never Give Up
95. Darline - Until Tomorrow
94. Little Mix feat Jason Derulo - Secret Love Song
93. Sigala feat Imani & DJ Fresh - Say You Do
92. Alan Walker - Alone
91. Kungs vs. Cookin' On 3 Burners - This Girl
90. Delta Goodrem - Just Call
89. Craig David - 16
88. The Chainsmokers feat Halsey - Closer
87. Smith & Thell - Row
86. The Rhythm Method - Party Politics
85. Måns Zelmerlöw - Glorious
84. The Flavor - Shosholoza
83. Emeli Sandé - Breathing Underwater
82. Frances - Say It Again
81. Only Girl - Remains
80. Charly Cole - February 29 (Marry Me)
79. ROMANS feat Rejjie Snow - Prisoner
78. Clean Bandit feat Louisa Johnson - Tears
77. Douwe Bob - Slow Down
76. Lady Gaga - Perfect Illusion
75. Offaiah - Trouble
74. Sigma feat Take That - Cry
73. Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Barbie Girl
72. Craig David & Big Narstie - When The Bassline Drops
71. Delta Goodrem - The River
70. Ira Losco - Walk On Water
69. Shotgun Fakes - Slow Motion
68. Honey Ryder - Years From Now
67. Lauren Aquilina - Thinking About
66. Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean It's 1985
65. Sheppard - We Belong
64. Matoma & Becky Hill - False Alarm
63. Wiktoria - Save Me
62. All Saints - This Is A War
61. 99 Souls feat Destiny's Child & Brandy - The Girl Is Mine
60. Shotgun Fakes - Out Of The Blue
59. Danny L Harle - Broken Flowers
58. Sigala feat John Newman & Nile Rodgers - Give Me Your Love
57. The Corrs - I Do What I Like
56. Craig David & Sigala - Ain't Giving Up
55. The Strumbellas - Spirits
54. Christine and the Queens - Tilted
53. Matt Simons - Catch & Release (Deepend Remix)
52. Alyss - T S I E R
51. Stereoact feat Kerstin Ott - Die Immer Lacht
50. Al Gibbs - Asked Me To Dance
49. Little Mix - Touch
48. NEIKED feat Dyo - Sexual
47. Kate Rusby - Big Brave Bill
46. Ward Thomas - Boomerang
45. KOLAJ - Hitchhike
44. Amir - J'ai Cherché
43. Ellie Goulding - Still Falling For You
42. Kosmonova - Danse Avec Moi
41. Robin Bengtsson - Constellation Prize
40. Lady Gaga - Million Reasons
39. Blonde & Craig David - Nothing Like This
38. Lukas Graham - 7 Years
37. Jorja Smith - Blue Lights
36. SaRaha - Kizunguzungu
35. The Veronicas - In My Blood
34. Zara Larsson - Lush Life
33. Tigertown - Papernote
32. Theia - Roam
31. Douwe Bob - Jacob's Song
30. Joe and Jake - You're Not Alone
29. TheFatRat feat Laura Brehm - Monody
28. Starley - Call On Me (Ryan Riback Remix)
27. Imany - Don't Be So Shy (Filatov & Karas Remix)
26. The Weeknd feat Daft Punk - I Feel It Coming
25. Sia feat Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills
24. K3 - 10.000 Luchtballonnen
23. Alan Walker - Faded
22. Jonas Blue feat JP Cooper - Perfect Strangers
21. Alan Walker - Sing Me To Sleep
20. Delta Goodrem - Dear Life
19. All Saints - One Woman Man
18. Pixie Paris - Es Rappelt Im Karton
17. Frans - If I Were Sorry
16. EFF - Stimme
15. Little Mix - Shout Out To My Ex
14. Real Lies - North Circular
13. Olivia - I'm Not Your Lady
12. Sia feat Kendrick Lamar - The Greatest
11. Natalia Nykiel - Error
10. Sia - Move Your Body (Alan Walker Remix)
9. Pegboard Nerds - Emoji
8. Ortiga - Ilumbarada
7. KOLAJ - The Touch
6. All Saints - One Strike
5. Daithí - Mary Keanes Introduction
4. Frances - Don't Worry About Me
3. Delta Goodrem feat Gizzle - Enough
2. Poli Genova - If Love Was A Crime
1. Clean Bandit feat Sean Paul and Anne-Marie - Rockabye

Released late on in the year - and indeed still sitting at #1 in the UK on its eighth week as I type - Clean Bandit's Rockabye was the sound of the UK's premier (only?) classical dance outfit channeling Ace Of Base. With rising UK star Anne-Marie providing some very strong, almost Rihanna-esque vocals and the legendary Sean Paul providing some memorable catchphrases, such as 'daily struggle', it could hardly miss.

The track features a sun drenched 90s-influenced production, so perhaps it would have been an even bigger hit if released in summer, but who can argue with a Christmas #1 (which won me £200 after betting £8 on them at 25/1 to do just that) and two months at the top of the chart at the busiest time of year?

It's quite easy to see why it's done so well, an accessible tune to people of all ages, with relevant 2016-esque production flourishes but also appealing to those born in the 90s, due to the Ace of Base influence, and the 00s, with the Sean Paul feature. Plus the lyrics, unlike many songs that go to #1 these days, tell a thought provoking and heartfelt story, apparently influenced by the reality of one of the songwriters, Ina Wroldsen. And thats all topped off with a gorgeous string outro and probably the best chorus of the year. 

Absolutely sublime track and easily the best UK #1 since their own Rather Be in 2014 or - going further back - On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez feat Pitbull in early 2011. After a year of being incredibly bored with the generic and average songs doing well, it's been so refershing to see a genuinely great and well made song strike such a chord with the public.

I haven't been very keen on many of the other UK chart toppers this year, with only Little Mix's Shout Out To My Ex (#15), Lukas Graham's 7 Years (#38) and Closer by The Chainsmokers feat Halsey (#88) registering on my top 100.

Not far off Rockabye at all in second place for 2016 was If Love Was A Crime, the unexpectedly phenomenal pop song that Bulgaria brought to Eurovision, finishing a highly respectable fourth in the contest for Poli Genova. Delta Goodrem and US rapper Gizzle, finishing at #3 here, teamed up for an undeserved summer flop with Enough, a stunning blend of Delta's soaring vocals, gorgeous string laden production and Gizzle's unique rapped verses.

Elsehwere in the top ten are Don't Worry About Me, a beautiful piano ballad by English singer-songwriter Frances (#4) and Mary Keanes Introduction, a unique dance track from Irish producer Daithí (#5), featuring spoken word samples from his 90-year-old grandmother reflecting on growing up. 

Multiple entries in the top 100 come from Clean Bandit, Delta Goodrem, Frances, All Saints, KOLAJ, Sia, Real Lies, Little Mix, Alan Walker, Douwe Bob, Craig David, Lady Gaga, Sigala and Shotgun Fakes, all of whom really impressed me this year.

Top 40 albums of 2016

40. The Weeknd - Starboy
39. Charly Cole - Gotcha
38. Jem - Beachwood Canyon
37. Netsky - 3
36. The Shires - My Universe
35. Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Solstice
34. K3 - 10,000 Luchtballonnen
33. Douwe Bob - Fool Bar
32. Gwen Stefani - This Is What The Truth Feels Like
31. Justice - Woman
30. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman
29. Robbie Williams - The Heavy Entertainment Show
28. Kygo - Cloud Nine
27. Lauren Aquilina - Isn't It Strange?
26. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Familia
25. Colbie Caillat - The Malibu Sessions
24. Bastille - Wild World
23. Tove Lo - Lady Wood
22. Måns Zelmerlöw - Chameleon
21. Lukas Graham - Lukas Graham
20. Rihanna - Anti
19. Ward Thomas - Cartwheels
18. Birdy - Beautiful Lies
17. Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion Side B
16. Tom Odell - Wrong Crowd
15. Fifth Harmony - 7/27
14. Rachel Platten - Wildfire
13. Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine
12. Emeli Sandé - Long Live The Angels
11. Real Lies - Real Life


10. KT Tunstall - Kin

Kicking off the top ten is the shockingly good new album by KT Tunstall. I've loved KT since Eye To The Telescope but, for me personally, it's been diminishing returns from that point onwards. But the Scottish singer-songwriter rediscovered the magic this time around and the spirit of that fantastic debut album is present and correct here. I'd recommend checking out Hard Girls (complete with a great video featuring Melanie C), Maybe It's A Good Thing, Evil Eye, It Took Me So Long To Get Here, But Here I Am and the late ABBA-esque end of album beauty Everything Has Its Shape. Also check out the song All Or Nothing, which was on an EP released by KT earlier in the year and would have also made a great addition to this album.

9. Pet Shop Boys - Super

The legendary electronic duo consisting of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe returned with the follow-up to 2013's fantastic Electric this year and Super - another Stuart Price produced effort - was more of the same, but a bit brighter, more colourful and more poptastic. Though Super might not quite hit the heights of Electric, it has its fair share of brilliance and is a great example of why acts in their 60s shouldn't feel the need to only release covers or MOR blandness - this album proves that if you still have a creative flair then you should exploit it. My highlights are singles The Pop Kids and the Reggaeton-inspired Twenty-Something, Burn - which could have been on Kylie's Light Years or an 80s PSB album, the more melancholy Sad Robot World and the lyrically excellent The Dictator Decides.

8. Beyoncé - Lemonade

Beyoncé is becoming a pretty incredible albums artist and the brilliant Lemonade was a more than worthy follow-up to her self-titled 2013 album. So good lyrically for reasons covered at length elsewhere and the narrative flow of the album is also superb, making the accompanying film something not to be missed. My highlights are Hold Up, the fantastic and unexpected country track Daddy Lessons, All Night and Sorry, but the whole thing is a work of genius.

7. Britney Spears - Glory

2013's Britney Jean was nice in parts but sounded very cheaply produced and not really worthy of Britney's legendary status. But Glory happily marks the return of the Britney that was so critcially lauded on Blackout. The production here is slick and excellent and Britney's vocals have regained the magic, character and personality that made her such a star in the first place. Do You Wanna Come Over? could have been a smash in 2004 - yet still sounds relevant now - singles Make Me and Slumber Party are sultry slow jams, Man On The Moon and Just Luv Me are standout album tracks while Better - Britney's attempt at tropical house - and Liar are so good that it's astonishing they didn't make it onto the main album.

6. Lady Gaga - Joanne

Joanne is a breath of fresh air from Lady Gaga. 2013's Artpop was extremely good in places but perhaps just a bit too wacky on the whole for me to go back to over and over again. Joanne is the complete opposite to that album. A paired back, stripped down offering that is quite unlike the Gaga that the public is now used to. It's surprisingly the ballads that are my highlights on here, considering Gaga is not exactly well known as a balladeer. The title track Joanne and the current single Million Reasons are absolutely gorgeous. Of the more uptempo tracks, Diamond Heart, John Wayne, Dancin' In Circles and Just Another Day are all fantastic. This album should be huge but then this Gaga is a very different propsect to the enigma that the public fell in love with in 2009. I would urge people to give her new sound a chance though, she really is still one of the most talented artists around.

5. Craig David - Following My Intuition

Turn of the century star Craig David was inescapable from late 1999 to about 2003. He was at the forefront of the UK garage scene for years but quickly disappeared from the limelight after that save for the odd hit later in the decade. After years in the wilderness, in 2016 he has essentially coming back to sell his old style to a brand new, younger fanbase, many of whom do not remember his previous success. A very unusual propsect to see an artist essentially pushing the reset button on his career and seeing almost the same level of success second time around, with the same sort of music (lest we forget Take That became mature balladeers in their second iteration), but it's a fantastic comeback story. Anyway, Following My Intuition is clearly Craig David's best album since his debut, Born To Do It, melding relevant and brilliant production, strong melodies, Craig's vocal/rapping hybrid style and featuring a range of genres, much like that 2000 opus. Aside from the many excellent hit singles pulled from this album, the fantastic 16 - a mash up of Fill Me In and Skrillex, Diplo and Bieber's Where Are Ü Now - and Don't Go are my other highlights, both are absolutely huge.

4. All Saints - Red Flag

Studio 1 was cruelly underrated when All Saints made their first comeback in 2006, so I was really pleased to see them get another chance and this time the public took to them much more warmly, this album going top three in the UK. Perhaps 2006 was just too soon to come back, by 2016 many of their original fans will have made the transition to Radio 2 and be happy to hear one of their favourite acts of their youth back on the airwaves with strong new material. This was an album with less street style and attitude than Studio 1, and an altogether more mature prospect, but then All Saints always had that classy air about them anyway with hit singles like Never Ever, Pure Shores and Black Coffee. That sound very much continues on this album with the gorgeous lead single One Strike, as well as This Is A War and Who Hurt Who. Tropical house influenced One Woman Man is what All Saints would sound like if they were starting out in 2016 while Ratchet Behaviour is not too far removed from some of their more beat-driven singles from the late 90s, like Bootie Call.

3. Little Mix - Glory Days

From one UK girlband to another, but to one very much at the stage of their career where All Saints were between 1998 and 2000, i.e. the imperial phase. X Factor 2011 winners Little Mix have gone from strength to strength over the years, they could have so easily fizzled out slowly after second album DNA but instead came back charged up on 2015's Get Weird, and its lead single Black Magic, which took them up into a new gear. They've taken that success and gone one further with Glory Days, which is an even bigger and brighter pop album laiden with huge hooks, stunning harmonies and a minimal amount of tropical house. Bandwagon jumping is not really Little Mix's style, they've very much got their own distinct sound and it's shown here on the likes of lead single Shout Out To My Ex, Touch, Private Show and Power. Co-writers make their own presence felt on the likes of Oops and You Gotta Not, which are very clearly Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor songs, though both are pretty good. No More Sad Songs is the sole tropical bop and an obvious candidate for future single, while Nothing Else Matters is a lovely mid-tempo offering. A fantastic collection and I'm intrigued to see how big the girls can get from's hard to see what's left to achieve in the UK so worldwide domination is surely next?

2. Sia - This Is Acting

An album of songs rejected by other people might not sound like the most exciting album concept but even Sia's rejected songs are a million times better than songs most people could ever dream of writing. I've been willing Sia to become huge for almost two decades and when she finally became so a couple of years ago she released 1000 Forms Of Fear, which was good, but not really as much my cup of tea as a lot of her earlier albums. But 2016's This Is Acting marks the return of the melodic Sia I've loved for so long, sounding so energised. It really is hit after hit, and it's astonishing that some of these were turned down. Who in their right mind, other than Rihanna, who can just about get away with it, would pass on Cheap Thrills and Reaper? And was it really a good idea for Shakira to say no to the astounding Move Your Body? Alive, Broken Glass, Bird Set Free and One Million Bullets are also excellent...and then came the deluxe edition. This album was made even better in Q4 with the additions of fantastic single The Greatest, the hit version of Cheap Thrills with Sean Paul, Alan Walker's Eurodance reworking of Move Your Body and the lovely Confetti. Without doubt my favourite Sia album to date and one that has positioned her even more as one of the world's biggest new superstars. In a hugely ageist music industry, that's no mean feat at 41 years old.

1. Delta Goodrem - Wings Of The Wild

In a year that there's an album released by Delta Goodrem, it's usually a safe bet to top my end of year chart (2007's Delta excepted). And it's no different in 2016, with the Australian legend returning in the summer with her fifth studio album, Wings Of The Wild. Immediately my favourite album of hers since 2004's dark opus Mistaken Identity, Wings Of The Wild had a few familiar tracks on it before release, with the career revitalising Aussie #1 Wings, the lovely piano ballad Only Human and gorgeous string-laden ballad Dear Life.

Enough is my favourite track on the album other than Wings, very much in the template of the 2007 epic Believe Again, but with verses from female rapper Gizzle, so a very different prospect for Delta indeed. Elsehwere it's probably easier to list what I don't love than what I do. I suppose I could live without I'm Not Giving Up, In The Name Of Love and Encore, though all three are good. But the rest of the album is stunning. Feline and Hold On are in the sublime vein of Wings, her cover of I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness is seriously beautiful, Heavy is a classic Delta ballad, The River is thumping power pop reminiscent of the Mistaken Identity era and Just Call is really uplifitng and joyful. Overall this album just further confirms why Delta will likely forever remain my favourite artist, her quality just never dips.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 11

1. The Weeknd feat Daft Punk - I Feel It Coming
2. Starley - Call On Me (Ryan Ribeck Remix)
3. Little Mix - Touch
4. Måns Zelmerlöw - Glorious
5. Lisa Ajax - Santa Bring My Baby To Me
6. The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack - The Living Years
7. Little Mix - No More Sad Songs
8. Rag'n'Bone Man - Human
9. Weiss - You're Sunshine
10. The Weeknd - Rockin'
11. Rat Boy - Lovers Law
12. Dodie - Intertwined
13. Little Mix - Nothing Else Matters
14. CVA feat N-Trance - Only Love (Set You Free)
15. Amy MacDonald - Down By The Water
16. CUT - Tune In Tune Out (Anna Of The North Remix)
17. Busted - On What You're On
18. Otto Knows - Not Alone
19. Samantha Jade & Cyrus - Hurt Anymore
20. Dodie - Sick Of Losing Soulmates 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 10

1. Clean Bandit feat Sean Paul & Anne-Marie - Rockabye
2. Little Mix - Shout Out To My Ex
3. Sia - Move Your Body (Alan Walker Remix)
4. Tigertown - Papernote
5. Sheppard - We Belong
6. Lady Gaga - Million Reasons
7. Shotgun Fakes - Out Of The Blue
8. Emeli Sandé - Breathing Underwater
9. Jonas Blue feat Raye - By Your Side
10. Majestic - Raised In The 90s
11. Machine Gun Kelly feat Camila Cabello - Bad Things
12. Sia - Confetti
13. Smith & Thell - Row
14. Frida Sundemo - We Are Dreamers
15. Louisa Johnson - So Good
16. KOLAJ - Hitchhike
17. Tigertown feat Filous - Take Me Away
18. Busted - Easy
19. Oliver Heldens - Good Life
20. Starley - Call On Me

Monday, 3 October 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 9

1. Daithí - Mary Keanes Introduction
2. Alyss - T S I E R
3. Kate Rusby - Big Brave Bill
4. Sia feat Kendrick Lamar - The Greatest
5. Delta Goodrem - The River
6. Shotgun Fakes - Slow Motion
7. Craig David - 16
8. LP - Lost On You
9. Al Gibbs - Asked Me To Dance
10. Delta Goodrem - White Light
11. Still Corners - Bad Country
12. The Weeknd feat Daft Punk - Starboy
13. Craig David - Don't Go
14. Lady Gaga - Perfect Illusion
15. Armand Van Helden - Wings
16. Zun - U.N. Owen Was Her
17. Emeli Sandé - Hurts
18. ROZES - Under The Grave
19. Regina Spektor - Older And Taller
20. KT Tunstall - Hard Girls

Top of the pile this month is Irish producer Daithí with his incredibly charming dance track that features spoken word samples from his 90-year-old grandmother Mary talking about her youth. The unique track was released last year but I only heard it recently. Beforehand I had previously heard Asked Me To Dance by Al Gibbs, another Irish dance track which pulls a similar trick, with a few female voices talking about memorable events and places in their life, but which uses production reminiscent of Prayer In C by Lilly Wood and The Prick.

Brighton-based singer-songwriter Alyss has been growing in profile over the past few months and her latest single, T S I E R (which stands for This Shit Isn't Even Real fyi) is her best yet. Starting with a slightly ghostly voice, it soon transcends into a pretty hypnotic beat that sounds like an indie/house hybrid take on Move by Little Mix. A real earworm that adds extra layers of lush production as it goes along (and with lyrics inspired by Shaman teachings apparently), it deserves to be huge.

A popular British folk singer best known to me for her collaboration a decade ago with Ronan Keating on All Over Again, Kate Rusby has never particularly caught my attention much but the singer's new track about fictional Yorkshire Tea-loving superhero Big Brave Bill is one of the most unexpectedly brilliant things I've heard in a while. The production is very Leddra Chapman-esque and the lyrics are quintessentially British, in a very endearing way. 

UK hits that I'm loving this month include Sia's latest single, The Greatest, which features Kendrick Lamar and is another solid gold 10/10 pop banger, and Lady Gaga's comeback single Perfect Illusion, which is great for about two minutes but then runs out of ideas quickly. Straight in at No.3 in the UK last week, Canadian star The Weeknd's collaboration with French legends Daft Punk, Starboy, is probably my favourite thing he's done to date. And amazingly it's been nearly five years since Emeli Sandé released her debut album, Our Version Of Events. She's now back with the fantastic dramatic ballad Hurts, which will hopefully set her second album up to be a success. 

Taken from the album that will hopefully debut at No.1 this week to complete an astonishing comeback are two songs from Craig David; dance banger Don't Go and the fantastic 16, a new version of the singer's 2000 No.1 hit Fill Me In that now adds extra rap verses that bring it bang up to date and production from Where Are U Now by Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber. If there's any justice this will be a huge hit over the next few months.

Delta Goodrem also has a double appearance with powerful and anthemic new single The River and leaked track White Light, an energetic electro-pop track that seems to be from around a decade ago but has just surfaced. South African duo Shotgun Fakes consists of honey-voiced Pamela Myburgh, the former lead singer of The Arrows, and her husband Stefan. Their new single Slow Motion is a reworking of an album track from Disaster Queen, The Arrows' final studio album before they disbanded. The cute romantic track was always a highlight of the album and it's good to see it get another outing, with a fresh 2016 production.

UK indie act Still Corners released a fantastic track called Fireflies a few years ago but I haven't followed them since. But I listened to their latest album a couple of weeks ago and the highlight is the brilliant Bad Country, with very relateable lyrics that almost make it seem like a post-Brexit anthem and a melody similar to Where Have All The Cowboys Gone by Paula Cole. American singer LP's track Lost On You has already started to smash in various parts of Europe, either in its original guise or the dance reworking by Swanky Tunes & Going Deeper. Both versions are great, it's a really fantastic song that sounds like an instant classic. And US dance veteran Armand Van Helden's new single Wings is probably my favourite single of his since Bonkers, an instantly catchy and memorable house track. 

Otherwise unmentioned are Hard Girls, the new single by KT Tunstall from her excellent new album Kin; Older and Taller, a quirky instant grat track from the brilliant Regina Spektor's new album Remember Us To Life; Under The Grave, a brilliant pop song from American singer ROZES, and a mad but fantastic instrumental track by Zun called U.N. Owen Was Her?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 8

1. Theia - Roam
2. Ellie Goulding - Still Falling For You
3. Natalia Nykiel - Error
4. Lauren Aquilina - Thinking About
5. Kosmonova - Danse Avec Moi!
6. Chloe Rose - For Me
7. The Chainsmokers feat Halsey - Closer
8. NEIKED - Sexual
9. Craig David & Sigala - Ain't Giving Up
10. Britney Spears - Do You Wanna Come Over?
11. Lushington - You Got Me Baby
12. TIEKS feat Dan Harkna - Sunshine
13. Carly Rae Jepsen - Higher
14. Ward Thomas - Boomerang
15. Mark Sixma & Emma Hewitt - Restless Hearts (Ben Nicky Remix)
16. Eiffel 65 - Critical
17. Britney Spears - Man On The Moon
18. Celine Dion - Les Yeux Au Ciel
19. Offaiah - Trouble
20. Birdy - Wild Horses

A fantastic emerging talent from New Zealand tops the chart this month. Theia's Roam is like a brilliant fusion of the best bits from Lorde and Dua Lipa with a thoroughly 2016-friendly production running underneath an earworm of a chorus and a post-chorus hook that's just as catchy. Definitely one to watch for the future I feel.

Ellie Goulding returns with another big movie ballad, and while Still Falling For You doesn't *quite* hit the incredible heights of last year's Love Me Like You Do, it comes surprisingly close. It is much more subtle than that track though, with a gorgeous bassline and tender vocals from Ellie. Something very different is a recent Polish chart topper, Error by Natalia Nykiel, which has confident and hard hitting pop production that sounds like something The Saturdays might have come out with if they were still around now - and that language barrier is no barrier at all when something is this standout.

Lots of other good pop out at the moment, namely Chloe Rose's For Me, an infectious Mike Stock creation that updates the Steps/Scooch vibe to sound more like Carly Rae Jepsen Jr, Swedish producer NEIKED's raunchy but fantastic Sexual, and Carly Rae Jepsen herself with Higher, the highlight from the Canadian star's new album, Emotion Side B. Other good pop comes from Britney's brilliant new album Glory; namely the highlights Man On The Moon and Do You Wanna Come Over, which is perhaps the most fun she's had on record since 2004's In The Zone album.

Dance gems this month include the current UK No.1 single, and perhaps one of the best chart toppers of the year to date, Closer by US duo The Chainsmokers and emerging talent Halsey. Quite a simple song and drop but its simplicity is almost part of its charm, and who knew either of The Chainsmokers could sing! Craig David continues his excellent comeback with another fantastic smash, Ain't Giving Up, a collaboration with UK producer Sigala. Something rather older, but one I've been hammering this month nonetheless, is the 2000 European hit Danse Avec Moi! by German DJ Kosmonova, which criminally never got a UK release but would have surely been huge if it had done, despite the few vocals being in French (it never stopped Sash!)

Other great dance comes from Lushington with the 90s-esque house banger You Got Me Baby, Mark Sixma & Emma Hewitt's emotional trance track Restless Hearts, the return of Italian legends Eiffel 65 with Critical and a couple of great songs currently making big waves in the UK charts; Sunshine by TIEKS feat Dan Harkna and Trouble by Offaiah.

Otherwise unmentioned are British singer-songwriter Lauren Aquilina's best song to date, the beautiful and timeless sounding piano ballad Thinking About, UK country duo Ward Thomas' catchy album highlight Boomerang, Birdy's recent single Wild Horses, which has returned to my affections after being used just before nearly every X Factor ad break, and the surprisingly good album track Les Yeux Au Ciel from Canadian legend Celine Dion's new French language album.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 7

1. Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean It's 1985
2. Ortiga - Ilumbarada
3. Frances - Say It Again
4. Duke Dumont - Be Here
5. Imany - Don't Be So Shy (Filatov & Karas Remix)
6. cXo - Karma Chameleon
7. Matoma & Becky Hill - False Alarm
8. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Come With Us
9. Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber & MØ - Cold Water
10. M.O - Who Do You Think Of?
11. Feed Me feat Nina Nesbitt - What It Feels Like
12. Molly Nilsson - 1995
13. Jay Bovino feat Sahara Beck - Get You Alone
14. Nick Deboni feat Kelsey - Let Go
15. The Chainsmokers feat Daya - Don't Let Me Down
16. Allie X - All The Rage
17. Katy Perry - Rise
18. Delta Goodrem - Just Call
19. Robyn - With Every Heartbeat (Joakim Remix)
20. Mischief - Gold

Topping the list this month is a wonderful remake of Justin Bieber's What Do You Mean, which is completely restyled to sound as if it were released in 1985. The track features production straight from the radio playing in the Saved By The Bell diner, my personal highlights including a gorgeous piano melody after the first chorus and a mournful sax solo after the second. Bieber also pops up with the huge (and decent) new global hit Cold Water, alongside Major Lazer and Danish singer MØ.

German-based Chilean world music group Ortiga's 
Ilumbarada was originally released at the turn of the century but I've only recently heard it for the first time. It's rather Enigma influenced, and very very good, with an uplifiting melody and even a key change. After providing one of my favourite songs of the year in Don't Worry About Me, rising British star Frances' new 90s-esque single Say It Again is very instant and almost reaches those heights.

The best of a range of dance music this month is Be Here, the new single by Duke Dumont and for me the UK producer's best single since his huge 2014 UK #1 hit I Got U. French singer Imany has scored a huge European hit with the Filatov & Karas Remix of her song Don't Be So Shy, and I'm hoping it can get another chance in the UK fairly soon as it sounds like a smash.

Swedish producer cXo's tropical house reworking of Culture Club's Karma Chameleon sounds as you'd expect, but it's still a joy to listen to, while Norwegian producer Matoma has teamed up with former The Voice contestant Becky Hill on the beautiful False Alarm. Other dance entries include What It Feels Like by Feed Me and Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt, Sheppard member Jay Bovino's new house record Get You Alone, Brazillian producer Nick Deboni's Avicii-esque Let Go, an up-to-date remix of Robyn's 2007 UK #1 hit With Every Heartbeat and the current UK smash Don't Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers and Daya.

On the pop side of things we have Sophie Ellis-Bextor who returns with Come With Us, a slice of disco brilliance that sounds as if it could have come from her debut album, and rising British girlband M.O with their catchy new hit Who Do You Think Of? Canadian singer Allie X hasn't really impressed me that much so far but All The Rage changes that with its huge killer chorus. Also representing pop is Just Call, one of the highlights from Delta Goodrem's excellent new album Wings Of The Wild, Katy Perry's new single Rise, Australian girlband Mischief with Gold and Swedish-born singer Molly Nilsson with 1995.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 6

1. Real Lies - North Circular
2. Delta Goodrem feat Gizzle - Enough
3. Alan Walker - Sing Me To Sleep
4. The Veronicas - In My Blood
5. KT Tunstall - All Or Nothing
6. Real Lies - One Club Town
7. Christine And The Queens - Tilted
8. The Beach - Geronimo
9. Above & Beyond feat Alex Vargas - Blue Sky Action
10. Olivia - I'm Not Your Lady
11. KT Tunstall - Evil Eye
12. Jonas Blue feat JP Cooper - Perfect Strangers
13. Cilia - Hardcore Heartbreak
14. Celtic Woman feat Oognah - Tír na nÓg
15. Clean Bandit feat Louisa Johnson - Tears
16. Walking On Cars - Ship Goes Down
17. Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Barbie Girl
18. One Un1ted - The Animal Song
19. Kylie Minogue - This Wheel's On Fire
20. Drake feat Rihanna - Too Good

London electronic/rap trio Real Lies have been around for a few years but have only just come to my attention. North Circular is a stunning story about growing up in North London, set to an atmospheric backdrop that evokes Pet Shop Boys, New Order and The Streets. A really special song. One Club Town, meanwhile, which is also taken from the band's excellent debut album Real Life, is more catchy and bouncy with a chorus sampled from Bassomatic's early 90s hit Fascinating Rhythm.

Australian star Delta Goodrem continues the build-up to her new album, Wings Of The Wild - excitingly out in less than a week - with Enough, which features American female rapper Gizzle who raps the verses before Delta provides the bridge and chorus. Enough is a powerful string-laden beauty that could have fit on either the Mistaken Identity or Delta albums, with shades of songs like Nobody Listened and Believe Again, yet it also feels completely current and the album now sounds very promising indeed.

A great comeback this month from Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall, who was big in the mid-noughties, with two excellent tracks from her new EP The Golden State, All Or Nothing and Evil Eye. The songs hark back to the sound of her hit material and are already far better than her last album, which was incredibly forgettable. Also back are Australian twin sister duo The Veronicas with In My Blood, which could melodically have come from their debut album but has sparkling production reminiscent of Kylie Minogue's Light Years and Fever singles.

Dance entries this month include Norwegian producer Alan Walker's Sing Me To Sleep, the just-as-excellent follow up to recent huge hit Faded, Jonas Blue's Perfect Strangers, which is far better than his dull cover of Fast Car which was a hit earlier in the year, and Clean Bandit's collaboration with X Factor winner Louisa Johnson, Tears, which is already shaping up to be a bit of a nu-disco classic. Swedish duo One Un1ted have delivered a strong tropical house cover of Savage Garden's 1999 single The Animal Song while Above & Beyond's Blue Sky Action is a lush orchestral version of their excellent 2014 trance song of the same name.

Christine And The Queens has been huge in her native France for a few years and is now causing a stir in the UK ever since a Graham Norton performance of the brilliantly eccentric Tilted pushed her album Chaleur Humaine into the top ten here. Rising British male singer/songwriter The Beach could easily have a hit with the anthemic Geronimo, which sounds like an indie radio smash waiting to cross into the mainstream. Swedish teenager Olivia's debut single is a real statement of intent, a powerful pop track with an instant chorus and K-Pop meets turn of the century teen-pop production.

Otherwise unmentioned are fellow Swede Cilia's brilliantly emphatic Hardcore Heartbreak, Irish indie band Walking On Cars' Ship Goes Down (which reminds me of Artful Dodger's Twentyfourseven in the verses), Drake and Rihanna's latest duet, Too Good, and Tír na nÓg, a German/Irish collaboration by Celtic Woman and Oognah, which basically sounds as you would expect but is highly infectious nonetheless. Finally, there are two very different covers; This Wheel's On Fire by Australian icon Kylie Minogue - covering Bob Dylan for the soundtrack to the new Absolutely Fabulous film - and a haunting but great choral version of Aqua's Barbie Girl, by Belgian choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 5

1. Douwe Bob - Jacob's Song
2. Delta Goodrem - Dear Life
3. Sigma feat Take That - Cry
4. The Flavor - Shosholoza
5. Jamala - 1944
6. Beyoncé - Hold Up
7. Craig David - One More Time
8. Calvin Harris feat Rihanna - This Is What You Came For
9. Justin Timberlake - Can't Stop The Feeling!
10. Ariana Grande - Into You
11. Salt Ashes - Save It
12. Christina Stürmer - Seite An Seite
13. DNCE - Cake By The Ocean
14. Drake feat Wizkid & Kyla - One Dance
15. Kungs & Cookin' On 3 Burners - This Girl
16. Dua Lipa - Hotter Than Hell
17. Måns Zelmerlöw - Fire In The Rain
18. Pink - Just Like Fire
19. Pet Shop Boys - Twenty-Something
20. Era Istrefi - Bonbon

Fresh from representing The Netherlands at Eurovision earlier this month with Slow Down, Douwe Bob also recently released his new album, Fool Bar, and from that is the gorgeous ballad Jacob's Song, which would have almost made for a more interesting entry, apart from the fact that it's more than five minutes long. Every minute is a stunner though, this track sounds like an instant classic.

Following last year's spectacular Wings, the brilliant Delta Goodrem returns with another great single, the beautiful and relateable string-laden ballad Dear Life, which has given the Australian star yet another top three hit in her home country. 

Dance entries this month come from Calvin Harris and Rihanna, with their latest excellent collaboration This Is What You Came For, Sigma and Take That with their unexpected but catchy new single Cry, Kungs & Cookin' On 3 Burners with their huge international house hit This Girl, The Flavor with the infectious tribal dance of Shosholoza, which harks back to the uplifting sounds of Dario G's Sunchyme and Colour The World by Sash!

Ukraine's Jamala took home the Eurovision trophy with the politically charged 1944. Despite topping neither the public vote or the jury vote, Ukraine were the most consistent overall and won with the Eastern meets trip-hop inspired track. And from one of the best albums of the year, Hold Up seems to be one of the most popular songs from Beyoncé's Lemonade, and it's not difficult to see why, it's rather excellent with an effective sample. And Craig David returns with One More Time, his third UK garage throwback in little under six months.

Elsewhere in the top 20 are strong new singles from Justin Timberlake, Pink, Pet Shop Boys, Salt Ashes, Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande as well as Drake's huge smash One Dance, DNCE's catchy Maroon 5-esque hit Cake By The Ocean, Albanian singer Era Istrefi's European hit Bonbon, Måns Zelmerlöw's latest single, Fire In The Rain, and Austrian singer Christina Stürmer's ballad Seite An Seite.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2016 // Volume 4

1. Sigala feat John Newman & Nile Rodgers - Give Me Your Love
2. The Strumbellas - Spirits
3. K3 - 10.000 Luchtballonnen
4. KOLAJ - The Touch
5. All Saints - This Is A War
6. ROMANS feat Rejjie Snow - Prisoner
7. Greta Salome - Hear Them Calling
8. Francesca Michielin - No Degree Of Separation
9. Zoe - Loin D'ici
10. Florence Welch - When In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes
11. Douwe Bob - Slow Down
12. Tom Odell - Magnetised
13. Lauren Aquilina - Kicks
14. Little Mix feat Sean Paul - Hair
15. Justs - Heartbeat
16. Margaret - Cool Me Down
17. gnash feat olivia o'brien - i hate u i love u
18. Galantis - No Money
19. GFriend - Rough
20. BB Diamond - Feeling

Many of the songs I'm currently loving at the moment are the same as those on last month's list, so instead of retreading those again, here are 20 tracks I'm loving that are newer or still rising in my affections. 

UK dance act Sigala has struck gold with three UK top five hits in a row and his fourth single will hopefully be another major hit. Give Me Your Love, which features John Newman and Nile Rodgers is an uplifiting sun drenched summer anthem in waiting with a great chord progression.

Canadian indie group The Strumbellas have been charting in their home country for a few weeks now with the melodic Spirits, which sounds like a happier Lumineers record. If UK radio take to this I could easily see it being a huge future hit. Dutch/Belgian girlband K3 have had a recent member refresh and continue to unleash modern schlager gems...10.000 Luchtballonnen is a joyously cheesy turn of the century pop anthem with a melody that recalls Nik Kershaw's The Riddle. The UK takes itself far too seriously these days to listen to music like this anymore but thank god for mainland Europe still lapping this stuff up.

LA-based blog friendly pop act KOLAJ have just released The Touch, an excellent song that starts off mellow and folky and ends up as a full blown club banger. Following on from the sublime One Strike, the second single from the fantastic new All Saints album is This Is A War, which could well have been the follow up to Black Coffee it sounds so 2000-esque. Another killer chorus, stellar harmonies and top quality production make this song yet another reason why the group's comeback is so welcome.

Other great pop songs here include a handful of Eurovision entries that continue to grow on me including Iceland's Greta Salome with the dramatic and folky Hear Them Calling, Austria's Zoe with the charming French pop anthem Loin D'ici, Latvia's Justs with the cool and atmospheric Heartbeats, Douwe Bob from The Netherlands with the country pop strummer Slow Down and Italy's Francesca Michielin with the classy ballad No Degree Of Separation. Also here is Poland's Margaret with the Zara Larsson-esque Cool Me Down, which was in the running for Eurovision but madly not chosen by Poland.

Non-Eurovision pop includes Hair, the latest single from Little Mix, now featuring additional contribution from Sean Paul, who seems to be popping up everywhere again at the moment. Essex-based singer BB Diamond is already showing potential with the brilliant piano house pop of Feeling while South Korean girlband Gfriend's Rough is a string laden K-Pop belter.

Otherwise unmentioned are the current Australian #1, the ballad duet i hate u i love u by gnash (his lower case styling, not mine!), Tom Odell's excellent new single Magnetised, Lauren Aquilina's Taylor/Carly-esque Kicks and Florence Welch's When In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes, a medieval sounding beauty taken from Rufus Wainwright's latest project, a tribute to Shakespeare. Swedish dance act Galantis return with the catchy No Money while underrated British singer/songwriter ROMANS' collaboration with Irish rapper Rejjie Snow is almost a modern day garage anthem which features excellent vocals, an earworm of a chorus and top draw production. In the hands of Sam Smith the track would be a major hit, so hopefully ROMANS will get his chance too some day soon.