Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 100 songs of 2017

100. Katy Perry feat Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish
99. Rasmus Seebach – Bli' Her Lidt Endnu
98. Ten Fé – Another Way
97. Lido feat THEY. - Not Enough
96. Sheppard – Edge Of The Night
95. Tone Damli - Pinnacle
94. Choirs With Purpose feat Michelle McManus – We All Stand Together
93. Kelde – No Reason
92. Pound Shop Boys – Fireman Sam (It's Pontypandemonium)
91. Enrique Iglesias feat Sean Paul & Matt Terry – Subeme La Radio
90. Little Mix – Is Your Love Enough?
89. Jessica Mauboy - High
88. Shotgun Fakes – Depression Intervention
87. Mariette – A Million Years
86. Sigala feat Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love
85. Kamaliya feat Anne Judith Stokke Wik – Plastic Cup
84. PANG! - One Big Laugh
83. Dacia – Muistot
82. Alyss – Pyramid
81. The Corrs – Road To Eden
80. RAM & Arctic Moon with Stine Grove – A Billion Stars Above
79. Oonagh – Aulë Und Yavanna
78. FO&O – Gotta Thing About You
77. CNCO feat Little Mix – Reggaeton Lento (Remix)
76. Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You
75. Owe Thornqvist – Boogieman Blues
74. Taylor Swift – Dancing With Our Hands Tied
73. Saint Etienne – Obvious
72. Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut To The Feeling
71. Illusion – Run
70. Hannah Jane Lewis – Raincheck
69. Alan Walker – Alone
68. Dua Lipa – Be The One
67. The Kelly Family – No Lies
66. Steps – September Sun
65. French Montana feat Swae Lee – Unforgettable
64. Oh Laura – (Re) Release Me
63. Lorde – Green Light
62. Troll – Jimmy Dean
61. O'Neill Hudson – Lucky
60. Steps – Dancing With A Broken Heart
59. ALI – Cocoon
58. FOOL – Outcast
57. Steps – Firefly
56. Emma Watson, Luke Evans & Ensemble – Belle
55. The Fizz – Up For The Fight
54. Wiktoria – I Won't Stand In Your Way
53. Jowst – Grab The Moment
52. Take That - Giants
51. Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois
50. Missy Higgins – Torchlight
49. Saint Etienne – Sweet Arcadia
48. Jonas Blue feat William Singe – Mama
47. The Corrs – Dear Life
46. Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do
45. Robin Bengtsson – I Can't Go On
44. Rak-Su feat Wyclef Jean & Naughty Boy - Dimelo
43. Steps – Dear Santa
42. Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony
41. Loreen - Statements
40. Balbina – Die Regenwolke
39. Jax Jones feat Demi Lovato & Stefflon Don – Instruction
38. Alma - Requiem
37. Bella & Filippa – I Think Of Yesterday
36. Delta Goodrem – Take Me Home
35. E^ST – Life Goes On
34. Huntza – Aldapan Gora
33. Emma Bale – Worth It
32. Steps - Happy
31. Calvin Harris feat Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – Feels
30. Sanna Nielsen – Inte Ok
29. The Kelly Family – Fell In Love With An Alien
28. The Corrs – Son Of Solomon
27. Ace Wilder – Wild Child
26. Heavy K feat Bucie & Nokwazi – Inde
25. Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma
24. Black Motion feat Nokwazi – Imali
23. Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill
22. Katy Perry feat Skip Marley - Chained To The Rhythm
21. Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl
20. Tina Guo – Super Mario Bros.
19. Jasmine Thompson – Old Friends (Jonas Blue Remix)
18. Nicki French – Teardrops (On The Discofloor)
17. Ed Sheeran - Perfect
16. O'G3NE – Lights & Shadows
15. Yaşar Gaga & Sezen Aksu - Şahane Bir Şey Yaşamak
14. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat Justin Bieber – Despacito
13. Kamferdrops – Jag Trodde Änglarna Fanns
12. Tom Fall - Kaamos
11. The Corrs – SOS
10. Danny L Harle – 1UL
9. Rae Morris – Do It
8. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You
7. Rita Ora – Anywhere
6. Dua Lipa – New Rules
5. P!nk – What About Us
4. Steps – Neon Blue
3. Steps – Story Of A Heart
2. Steps – Scared Of The Dark
1. Wiktoria – As I Lay Me Down

Top of the pile this year is Swedish singer Wiktoria, with As I Lay Me Down, her entry to the Swedish Eurovision heats Melodifestivalen, which I was lucky enough to go to in Stockholm in March.

Following up her 2016 entry Save Me, As I Lay Me Down very much built on the country-tinged pop of its predecessor but added an extra retro 90s flavour. The end result was a song that sounded a little bit like something from B*Witched's debut album minus an Irish jig breakdown, and I loved every second of it.

This pure pop song stood out hugely to me in a world of generic tropical house and future bass made purely to get onto Spotify playlists. Following Melodifestivalen, where she ended up sixth despite coming second on the public vote for the second year running, the song reached No.2 in the Swedish charts and clearly had the legs to go further had the record label promoted it outside of her home country. As is so often the case, it wasn't to be but hopefully Wiktoria can still get her global breakthrough at some point as she is one of the most promising artists in Scandinavia right now.

Taking positions 2, 3 and 4 are comeback kids Steps with the excellent Scared Of The Dark, Story Of A Heart and Neon Blue. Scared Of The Dark was Faye, Lisa, H, Lee and Claire's long-awaited comeback single, actually only their first single since 2012's Light Up The Dark but the general public at large were probably not really aware of that so for most people it was their first exposure to new Steps music since 2001.

It certainly felt like a huge event, quickly smashing its way to No.1 on iTunes and succeeding where many others failed by knocking Ed Sheeran from the top of that chart. Sadly it wasn't a streaming hit of any sort and this cost it dearly, ending up at No.37 officially but at least unexpectedly giving the band their first top 40 hit in 16 years.

The track itself is a pop masterpiece. A blistering string-laden intro gives way to a classic Faye verse (she almost always starts their hits) before moving onto vocal powerhouse Claire and the biggest schlager chorus I've heard in years. Complete with a huge key change, a dance routine - naturally - and the band's first music video in 16 years, everything about this release was spot on and was the perfect way to reintroduce the band to the general public and set up a gold selling comeback album.

Follow-up single Story Of A Heart is a cover of a 2009 single by Benny Andersson Band. I loved the original version of this, written by Benny along with ABBA bandmade Bjorn Ulvaeus, but the Steps version definitely elevates it to another level. Highlights of the track include the perfect vocals - Claire sounds delicate yet stunning on the first verse while Faye smashes the second verse out of the park, 'the house by the lake' lyric delivered with such purity and clarity that she really reminds you of Agnetha Faltskog.

Special mention goes to the 7th Heaven remix, which was almost as good as the radio edit, and indeed on tour the band performed a medley combining the two versions.

Kylie-esque uplifting pop stomper and album highlight Neon Blue gives Steps three songs in my top four of the year while the ever relevant P!nk rounds off the top five with recent hit single What About Us, sounding just as good in 2017 as she did at the turn of the century when she launched her career.

Also in my top ten of the year are huge UK hit singles by Ed Sheeran (Shape Of You), Rita Ora (Anywhere) and Dua Lipa with New Rules, possibly the most quotable song of the year as she gives everyone a literal new set of modern rules to live by. PC Music icon Danny L Harle's electronic dance stomper 1UL and Do It by the eternally underrated but always genius Rae Morris complete the top ten.

Top 40 albums of 2017

40. Nelly Furtado – The Ride
39. Francesco Gabbani – Magellan
38. Walk The Moon – What If Nothing
37. Frida Sundemo – Flashbacks & Futures
36. Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
35. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
34. Yaşar Gaga – Alakasiz Sarkilar, Vol.1
33. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
32. Hey Violet – From The Outside
30. Nerina Pallot – Stay Lucky
29. Ten Fé – Hit The Light
28. Galantis – The Aviary
27. P!nk – Beautiful Trauma
26. Loreen – Ride
25. La La Land OST
24. The Sound of Arrows – Stay Free
23. Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra – Ibiza Classics
22. Helene Fischer – Helene Fischer
21. Sia – Everyday Is Christmas
20. Hurts - Desire
19. Beauty & The Beast OST
18. Jessie Ware – Glasshouse
17. Shakira – El Dorado
16. Kelly Clarkson – The Meaning Of Life
15. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
14. Lorde – Melodrama
13. The Fizz – The F-Z Of Pop
12. Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
11. Alex Christensen & The Berlin Orchestra – Classical 90s Dance
10. Take That – Wonderland
9. Frances – Things I've Never Said
8. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
7. Zara Larsson – So Good
6. The Kelly Family – We Got Love
5. Taylor Swift – Reputation
4. Katy Perry - Witness
3. The Corrs – Jupiter Calling
2. Ed Sheeran - ÷
1. Steps – Tears On The Dancefloor

Some fantastic albums this year, including long-awaited debuts from Zara Larsson, Dua Lipa and Frances as well as strong returns from Katy Perry, Take That and Taylor Swift, even if the critics and sales figures didn't really agree. Also a surprising but great collection of old and new songs from Irish/American family band The Kelly Family, one of those acts that are huge in parts of mainland Europe, particularly Germany, but are not well known elsewhere.

Surpisingly only third, probably the first time ever that a new album by The Corrs hasn't finished at either No.1 or No.2 in my end of year chart, is Jupiter Calling, the family foursome's new offering that was released last month. A more traditional, organic offering than the band's previous few albums, it had to battle against two very strong albums that I've had most of the year to enjoy but there's no denying that it's not as good as White Light or Borrowed Heaven.

Nevertheless, a lesser Corrs album for me is still better than most albums by anybody else and there are plenty of gorgeous highlights on here - SOS, Son Of Solomon, Dear Life and Road To Eden are my absolute favourites but Bulletproof Love, Chasing Shadows, Butter Flutter and Hit My Ground Running are also all very good. And their October return to the Royal Albert Hall, where they played many of these tracks for the first time ever, was absolutely excellent.

At No.2 is Ed Sheeran with ÷. As a fan of Ed for coming up to a decade, it's been great to see him grow and grow, I don't think anybody would have expected him to become the world's biggest male artist. And ÷ is definitely the sound of an artist at their peak, every song sounding like a hit (and actually becoming one) despite most of them also sounding quite different to everything in the charts at the same time.

÷ is a grab bag of styles and gave me plenty to enjoy this year. Along with his four giant hit singles - Shape Of You, Castle On The Hill, Galway Girl and Perfect, my favourite tracks from the album include Dive, What Do I Know, Supermarket Flowers and Nancy Mulligan.

And at No.1 - the album I never expected to happen, but one that has completely defined and dominated my year and is probably my favourite album released by anyone since Sheppard's Bombs Away in 2014. 90s pop band Steps released a Christmas album, Light Up The World, in 2012, which limped into the top 40 and it looked as if that would be it in terms of new music from them. But the demand for brand new, original material was clearly still evident in 2017 and it turns out the band had been beavering away on preparing a new album for their 20th anniversary.

Everything about this campaign was perfect - Scared In The Dark was a monster lead single up there with their all-time best while the album was packed with songs just as good, including the other singles Neon Blue and Story Of A Heart. But it was far from filler beyond that - Happy and Firefly are both triumphant modern pop while I Will Love Again is a soaring cover of the Lara Fabian song. Glitter and Gold and No More Tears On The Dancefloor were amongst the other highlights. 

Later in the year Faye, Claire, H, Lisa and Lee released a deluxe edition, and made the best even better by covering a Delta Goodrem track, Dancing With A Broken Heart, to lead the re-release with. This was joined by a beautiful Xmas song, Dear Santa, and the excellent September Sun, along with a couple of other nice new tracks. The supporting arena tour was an absolute moment, perhaps the best concert I've seen in years with great polished new versions of the classics plus many of the aforementioned tracks from this album, stellar live vocals from the entire band and incredible staging.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2017 // Volume 12

1. Steps - Happy
2. Rak-Su feat Wyclef Jean & Naughty Boy - Dimelo
3. Little Mix - Is Your Love Enough?
4. Pop Chorus - Always
5. Sheppard - Coming Home
6. Rae Morris - Atletico
7. Loreen - '71 Charger
8. Grace Davies - Roots
9. My Indigo - My Indigo
10. Grace Davies - Too Young
11. Taylor Swift - Gorgeous
12. P!nk - Beautiful Trauma
13. Sia - Ho Ho Ho
14. LOKE feat Thomas Gregersen and Alexander Rybak - Det Vakreste Som Fins
15. Maren Morris - My Church
16. Craig David feat Bastille - I Know You
17, Kate Rusby - Big Brave Bill Saves Christmas
18. Sia - Candy Cane Lane
19. Pete Tong with The Heritage Orchestra - Promised Land
20. Robbie Williams - International Entertainment