Monday, 31 December 2018

Top 100 songs of 2018

1. Freya Ridings – Lost Without You
2. Dolcenera – Un Altro Giorno Sulla Terra
3. Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – One Kiss
4. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - Shallow
5. George Ezra – Shotgun
6. Dynoro & Gigi D'Agostino – In My Mind
7. Kylie Minogue – Dancing
8. Goodluck feat Boris Smith – Be Yourself
9. Goldfish – No One Has To Know (Midnight Kids Remix)
10. Bart & Baker feat The Billy Bros Orchestra – We Are What We Are (Wolfgang Lohr Remix)
11. Christine and the Queens feat Dam-Funk – Girlfriend
12. Silk City & Dua Lipa feat Mark Ronson & Diplo - Electricity 
13. E^ST – Life Goes On
14. Millie Turner – The Shadow 
15. Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
16. Mendez – Everyday
17. Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
18. Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love
19. Tic Tac Toe – Warum (Out Of Space Mix)
20. Tautumeitas – Sadziedami
21. Eleni Foureira – Fuego
22. Lady Gaga – I'll Never Love Again
23. Kylie Minogue – Stop Me From Falling
24. Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
25. Fever High feat Jeff Goldblum – Good Advice
26. Yusuf Can Kurt & Emircan Hattat feat La Dee Eda - Dream
27. Rita Ora – Let You Love Me
28. Kylie Minogue & Jack Savoretti – Music's Too Sad Without You
29. George Ezra – Paradise 
30. Rasmussen – Higher Ground
31. Mariette – For You 
32. K3 – Liefde Is Overal
33. Delta Goodrem – Welcome To Earth
34. All Saints – Testament In Motion
35. Anne-Marie – 2002
36. Mae Muller - Jenny
37. Jessica Andersson – Party Voice
38. Jess Glynne – I'll Be There
39. Zanda Zakuza feat Dr Moruti - Amaza
40. Wiktoria – Perfect Memory
41. DJ Licious feat Dragonette – Rich Girl
42. Hafdís Huld – Summer Inside
43. The Academic – Fake ID
44. All Saints – Love Lasts Forever
45. Lovebugs – Hung The Moon
46. Delta Goodrem – Think About You
47. : PM – Grown Ups
48. Mallrat – Better
49. Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way
50. Robyn – Missing U
51. George Ezra – Hold My Girl
52. All Saints – Glorious
53. Carrie Underwood – Love Wins
54. Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off
55. Dubstar – Waltz No.9
56. Jonas Blue feat Jack & Jack - Rise
57. Clean Bandit feat Demi Lovato – Solo
58. Sheppard – Live For You
59. Calvin Harris & Sam Smith - Promises
60. Hooverphonic – Romantic
61. Noemi Dee – Out Of My Soul
62. Sigrid – Strangers
63. Lauren Daigle – You Say
64. Take That – Out Of Our Heads
65. 5 Seconds Of Summer – Youngblood
66. Little Mix feat Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
67. Robyn - Honey
68. Sol Heilo – Killing Karma
69. Lady Gaga – Hair Body Face
70. Missy Higgins – Futon Couch
71. David Guetta & Sia - Flames
72. Ryan O'Shaughnessy – Together
73. Alice Merton – No Roots
74. Lea – Zu Dir
75. Ofra Haza – Im Nin'Alu
76. Ida Maria – Scandilove
77. Clean Bandit feat Marina and the Diamonds & Luis Fonsi - Baby
78. Bruno Mars feat Cardi B – Finesse (Remix)
79. Amy Shark – Adore
80. Matt Berry - Rainbow
81. Ariana Grande – thank u, next
82. MJ Cole & Freya Ridings – Waking Up
83. Rina Sawayama – Ordinary Superstar
84. Burhan G feat Frida Brygmann - Tinka
85. SuRie – Storm
86. Natalia Nykiel – Spokój
87. Bardot – I Need Somebody
88. CamelPhat & Cristoph feat Jem Cooke - Breathe
89. Dua Lipa & BLACKPINK – Kiss And Make Up
90. Nicki French - Surrender
91. Gabrielle Shonk – When We Were Young
92. Ellie Goulding feat Swae Lee – Close To Me
93. Ella Mai – Boo'd Up
94. Bardot – Love Will Find A Way
95. Nicki French – On Your Marks, Get Set, Go Away
96. Saara Aalto – Domino
97. Mark Ronson feat Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
98. Sigala feat Kylie Minogue – What You Waiting For
99. Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies & Celia Imrie – When I Kissed The Teacher
100. KT Tunstall – The River

I first heard the studio version of Lost Without You right at the start of 2018 and instantly flocked to Spotify to discover the even better Live At St Pancras Old Church version, with gorgeous added strings. I then saw Freya perform live in Islington in May and she was brilliant - I was certain she was a star of the future but that progression happened more quickly than even I'd expected, with the song gaining traction partially via Love Island in the summer and eventually winding up with six weeks in the UK top 10. Every week of that success is so very deserved for what is my favourite piano ballad in many years, from a singer who will hopefully be one of the biggest stars of 2019. Spellbinding.

In second place is Italian veteran Dolcenera's summer anthem Un Altro Giorno Sulla Terra, which I first heard in a small local village shop while on holiday in Sicily. An uplifting and brilliant Italian language anthem, the carnival breakdown middle eight is one of my absolute favourite musical moments of the year and the whole song takes me right back to 2018's long, hot summer.

And rounding off my top five of the year are a trio of excellent UK No.1 singles - the excellent dance anthem One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa, rock ballad Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from the A Star Is Born soundtrack - Gaga's finest musical moment in almost a decade, and Shotgun by George Ezra, an infectious, breezy indie-pop track that was a real breath of fresh air this summer.

Also in the top ten are two great South African dance tracks, from the musically overlooked nation's finest producers Goldfish and Goodluck, Dancing, the great lead single from Kylie Minogue's country-pop album Golden, In My Mind by Lithuanian producer Dynoro and Italian legend Gigi D'Agostino, another of the year's biggest and most enjoyable dance hits, and We Are What We Are, a fun electro swing track from French act Bart & Baker.

Top 40 albums of 2018

1. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper - A Star Is Born OST

Many people had written off Gaga after Artpop in 2013 but I loved that album, loved 2016's Joanne and always felt that such a huge talent just needed another lucky break to regain her superstar status, and A Star Is Born was that break. A gripping movie, excellently acted by Gaga and Bradley Cooper, the soundtrack was surely another reason it was such a runaway box office success.

Gaga is on the top of her game here and. to be fair, so is Bradley Cooper - who on earth knew he was such a good singer? He adds a lot to Shallow and I also enjoy his ballad Maybe It's Time and the country rocker Black Eyes, but it's Gaga that really shines here. I'll Never Love Again is an emotive Whitney-esque power ballad in the style I didn't realise were even made anymore while Always Remember Us This Way is slightly more contemporary, and the sonic successor to Gaga's 2011 hit You & I.

Other highlights include some of the poppier moments - in the film we're supposed to see these songs as Gaga's character Ally losing her identity as she goes through the industry machine, but in truth Hair Body Face is the type of incredible pop moment Gaga put out in her sleep at the turn of the decade while Why Did You Do That? is similar to her 2017 Spotify-friendly hit The Cure. A Star Is Born is a fantastic return to form for Gaga on all counts here, I really can't wait to see what she does next.

2. Kylie Minogue - Golden

Pop legend Kylie Minogue topped my end of year chart with Aphrodite in 2010 and, truth be told, that was her last album up to now that I return to. Side projects such as Kylie Christmas and The Abbey Road Sessions were fun diversions while 2014's Kiss Me Once felt a bit directionless, though some tracks were enjoyable.

But on Golden Kylie found a purpose with a move to country, albeit on her own terms. While the Dolly Parton influences are clear, this is still a Kylie record and the likes of Raining Glitter are cut from the same cloth as Light Years while Lost Without You could have come from 'the indie years'.

But this was a beauty of an album campaign - the wonderful Dancing was her best single in years, Stop Me From Falling was a very worthy follow-up, Golden and A Lifetime To Repair were melodic Radio 2 favourites and Music's Too Sad Without You is my favourite Kylie ballad for a long, long time, it's utterly gorgeous.

3. Sheppard – Watching The Sky

Following up my favourite album of the last 14 years was never going to be an easy ask and, truthfully, Watching The Sky doesn't quite get up to the same level to which I loved 2014's Bombs Away. But such is my love for Aussie indie-pop group Sheppard and their way around a pop melody, they still manage a top three end of year finish with their second album.

The band had already released many of the songs here as singles over the past three years - Coming Home is a 'hands-in-the-air' strummer in the same vein as 2014 mega hit Geronimo, Keep Me Crazy and Riding The Wave are fun summery pop songs and We Belong and Edge Of The Night have enjoyable 80s/90s feels to them respectively. Thankfully, there was more of the same to come on the album, and standout tracks include the catchy Love Me Now, the beautiful Live For You, and the energetic Choke. Safe to say, I'm very excited to see what they have up their sleeves for Australia's 2019 Eurovision selection.

4. Rae Morris – Someone Out There

When will Blackpool singer Rae Morris get the recognition that she deserves? Her soulful and sumptuous voice took her debut album Unguarded into my top three of 2015 - three years after the stunning ballad Don't Go made my top five singles of 2012 - and she followed it up early in 2018 with a bigger and bolder collection, which is easily on par with its predecessor. 

Last year's Do It - one of my favourite songs of 2017 - suggested this album could be something very special indeed, and it really didn't disappoint. The timeless beauty of Wait For The Rain, Dancing With Character and Someone Out There are interspersed here with pop bangers Rose Garden, Atletico (The Only One) and Reborn to make an incredibly special album.

5. Freya Ridings – Live At Omeara

My anticipation for London singer Freya Ridings' debut album, coming in May 2019, is pretty much at fever pitch already based on seeing her live earlier this year and the quality of both this live album and her earlier collection Live At St Pancras Old Church.

This gig snapshot - released in March - already highlights Freya's growth as an artist and her increasing talent for songwriting and melody. Lost Without You is a gorgeous track and now a huge hit single and other standout ballads include Blackout, Ultraviolet and the beautiful You Mean The World To Me.

But Freya should not be underestimated - the more uptempo album opener Love Is Fire and the anthemic Castles - as well as features on dance singles this year by MJ Cole and RL Grime - show that she is a very diverse talent with a stunning voice. Definitely one to watch.

6. Take That – Odyssey

Odyssey is a greatest hits with a twist. Rather than just pushing out the hits, Gary, Mark and Howard re-recorded and remixed all of their significant hits and added a few new songs and I love the result. Their more recent post-comeback hits - These Days, The Flood, Cry, Giants, Said It All, Shine and Greatest Day - have all been pretty much untouched aside from some production flourishes and extended intros in some cases.

But there are some great and very different new versions of old classics here - Everything Changes, Pray and Love Ain't Here Anymore in particular - which spruce up the back catalogue in an inventive way.

Out Of Our Heads is zany swing fun and the other two new tracks, Spin and Everlasting, could have easily come from Beautiful World. I also love the flow of this album, including the interludes and the interview snippets - it's a really enjoyable look back through a fantastic career.

7. Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind

Anne-Marie is a fun popstar in the 90s mould, making waves in 2018, and this is a very solid debut album. We already knew the strong singles Alarm and Ciao Adios, not to mention my favourite song of 2016, Rockabye with Clean Bandit and Sean Paul. But this collection - which feels more like a hits album of sorts - also houses the fun throwback 2002, the infectious hit FRIENDS, underrated singles Heavy and Then, and other great album tracks such as Trigger and Breathing Fire.

8. Lily Allen – No Shame

Alright, Still from 2006 is one of my absolute favourite albums of all time and It's Not Me, It's You from 2009 was a fantastic follow-up but I didn't really love 2014's Sheezus. However, Lily returned to her very best with this album, which is maybe less about standalone moments and more about the sum of its parts. Lily's raw emotion and life experience of the last few years is clear to see throughout this album, which is melodic without being in-your-face, vocally tender, and completely on point in terms of production.

But the lyrics are where Lily excels here - the likes of Three, Apples, Lost My Mind and Everything To Feel Something are such refreshingly honest songs and also become all the clearer when you read her excellent autobiography, My Thoughts Exactly.

9. George Ezra – Staying At Tamara's

I was never really a fan of George Ezra's music or voice prior to 2018 but the 'cheesy but gets away with it' anthem Paradise won me over completely and unexpectedly earlier this year and I took a punt on this album and ended up loving it.

A great example of how to do a second album well, and an exercise in standing out in a chart landscape drowning in a sea of generic Spotify fodder, Shotgun was a fantastic single, and one of the year's defining anthems, while Hold My Girl and The Beautiful Dream are both lovely tracks and among the album's other major highlights.

10. All Saints - Testament

If any pop comeback has brought consistent quality, if not overwhelming commercial success, it's the reuinion of All Saints. Studio 1 and Red Flag were among my top 10 albums of 2006 and 2016 respectively and Shaznay, Melanie, Natalie and Nicole turn the trick again with Testament.

While perhaps not as edgy as its predecessor, Testament is an incredibly solid and contemporary album with some real standouts - Love Lasts Forever was an infectious lead single, Glorious is an uplifting percussive anthem and the William Orbit tracks After All and the sumptuous Testament In Motion are up there with their very best - absolutely gorgeous.

11. Nicki French – Glitter To The Neon Lights
12. Steps – Party On The Dancefloor (Live from The London SSE Arena Wembley)
13. Little Mix – LM5
14. Christine and the Queens - Chris
15. Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
16. The Greatest Showman OST
17. Missy Higgins – The Special Ones
18. Ariana Grande – Sweetener
19. Robyn - Honey
20. Lauren Daigle – Look Up Child
21. Freya Ridings – Live At St Pancras Old Church
22. Florence + The Machine – High As Hope
23. Delta Goodrem – I Honestly Love You
24. Clean Bandit – What Is Love?
25. Bardot – Play It Like That
26. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again OST
27. Rita Ora – Phoenix
28. Jess Glynne – Always In Between
29. Sigala – Brighter Days
30. Amy Shark – Love Monster
31. Christina Aguilera – Liberation
32. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
33. Missy Higgins – Solastalgia
34. Boyzone – Thank You & Goodnight
35. Alan Walker – Different World
36. Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
37. Alex Christensen & The Berlin Orchestra - Classical 90s Dance 2
38. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
39. Tove Styrke - Sway
40. Mariah Carey – Caution

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Tunes I'm currently loving // 2018 // Volume 12

1. CamelPhat & Cristoph feat Jem Cooke - Breathe
2. MJ Cole & Freya Ridings - Waking Up
3. Mark Ronson feat Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
4. Jaden Bojsen - The Weekend
5. TRESOR feat Beatenberg - Aphrodite
6. Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies and Celia Imrie - When I Kissed The Teacher
7. Davina Michelle - Duurt Te Lang
8. Smith & Thell feat Swedish Jam Factory - Forgive Me Friend
9. Astrid S - Emotion
10. Sara Bareilles - Armor
11. Carly Rae Jepsen - Party For One
12. Marco Mengoni - Rivoluzione
13. Dario G - Cry
14. Alessia Cara - Not Today
15. Clean Bandit feat Anne-Marie - Should've Known Better
16. Mark Forster - 194 Länder
17. Studio Killers - Dirty Car
18. Dodo & The Dodos - Stammer Fra Et Kys
19. Lily Allen - Family Man
20. Take That - Everlasting