I'm not sure 2012 was a banner year for pop music. Obviously, I found enough songs to like during the last 12 months, but I don't think it will rank as one of my all-time favourite years.
|Carly Rae Jepsen had one of 2012's biggest global hits|
My main issue with music at the moment is that so much of it feels like production line pop - and not in a good Motown/Hit Factory sort of way. Very few pop artists are striking out and doing anything different, with the same songwriters, producers and guest rappers popping up everywhere. And, only one in every five David Guetta, Calvin Harris or Max Martin songs is truly sensational, while the rest feels like filler.
Thankfully, there is no filler in my next batch of 20 songs (numbers 80 to 61)...
Number 80 "Your Body" by Christina Aguilera
Another song given a big thumbs down by the music downloading public was X-tina's comeback track, which I first heard as an R-rated demo. I'm not sure dropping the F-bomb was necessary, but maybe releasing that version would have helped turn the track into a bigger hit. Despite being better than anything on the Bionic album, "Your Body" was a monumental flop. Still, I liked it.
Number 79 "Let's Go" by Matt & Kim
Another non-hit, but this time it's not by an internationally successful artist making a comeback. Instead, Matt & Kim are a low-key indie pop duo (also a real-life couple) yet to break through in a major way. I can't remember where I discovered this song - somewhere online, since most of the new music I listen to comes recommended by music websites and blogs these days.
Number 78 "Tonight Is The Night" by Outasight
Outasight might just turn out to be this year's Mike Posner, a solo male pop/dance/hip-hop artist who we'll not hear much from again, which makes "Tonight Is The Night" this year's "Cooler Than Me". Fun fact: Outasight's real name is Richard Andrew, which explains the stage name, since Richard Andrew sounds more like the name of an accountant that a pop star.
Number 77 St Lucia (EP) by St Lucia
All year, people have been recommending St Lucia to me, and a couple of times I started listening to the self-titled EP by the artist born Jean-Philip Grobler. I didn't mind what I heard, but little did I know that the best song was actually the fourth track, and, since my patience only goes so far, I never made it all that way. I finally listened to "Before The Dive" towards the end of the year - and I finally got the hype. So, the placement of this EP on this list is entirely down to that track, the clip of which is below.
Number 76 "Somewhere" by Scissor Sisters
The great thing about the digital age is that if a band (or record company) chooses dud singles (say, for example, "Shady Love" or "Let's Have A Kiki"), then I can choose alternate tracks for my personal chart since, these days, every song has the potential to count as a single. So, with the best tracks from Scissor Sister's fourth album not getting a promotional push, I gravitated towards this song instead. It's not the highest album track on this list, however.
Number 75 "Numb" by Usher
Way back in 2004, Usher was one of the first American R&B artists to really embrace the dance floor, with the synth-laden "Yeah!". Eight years later, he's still one step ahead of his contemporaries - working with Swedish House Mafia on this single from his latest album, Looking 4 Myself, before the producers/remixers became household names thanks to their own tracks.
Number 74 "Part Of Me" by Katy Perry
The fact that Katy has equalled Michael Jackson's record of having five number 1s from one album in the US says a lot about the state of music in 2012. Being a pop fan, I should like Katy's songs more than I do - they're certainly catchy enough - but something about them doesn't quite gel with me. I like them, but I don't love them as much as everyone else seems to. This single also went to number 1 in the States (her sixth out of seven releases), but didn't allow Katy to break MJ's record since it wasn't on the original version of Teenage Dream.
Number 73 "Vegas Girl" by Conor Maynard
Canada has Justin Bieber, and the UK has Conor Maynard, who just turned 20 in November. And, while JB's career was helped along by Usher, Ne-Yo has been instrumental in Conor's success so far (even guesting on the single "Turn Around", which missed my top 100). I wasn't interested in Conor's debut single, "Can't Say No", but the chorus on this, his second release, did the trick for me.
Number 72 "Gold" by Guy Sebastian
I always marvel about how Australia managed to get it so right back in 2003 when we crowned Guy our first Australian Idol champ - and with his musical output in 2012, he certainly showed why he was the right choice. "Battle Scars" was the bigger hit (it's just outside my top 100), but I preferred this track, even if it did result in the elimination of guest vocalist Carmen Smith from The Voice.
Number 71 "Supermagic" by Parralox
OK, I know this is actually a single from 2010, but I didn't discover this group until this year's remix of "Sharper Than A Knife", which we'll get to further up this list. After I downloaded the repackage of the Australian synthpop group's Metropolis album, I discovered this previous single and, well, liked it enough for it to rank here.
Number 70 "Losing Myself" by Will Young
Here's Will again, with the third single from Echoes. I've never quite understood why the inaugural Pop Idol winner hasn't been pushed in Australia, since quite a number of his singles over the years probably would have done quite well here. I'm sure he's not losing any sleep over it.
Number 69 "Only The Horses" by Scissor Sisters
And here are Scissors Sisters again, this time with an actual single from Magic Hour, which was co-produced by man of the moment Calvin Harris. They still have a loyal following, but the days of Scissor Sisters being a chart-topping act is long gone, which is a shame since their last two albums have featured some of their best songs.
Number 68 "Don't Wake Me Up" by Chris Brown
I know, I know... but judged purely on the music, I did quite like this song. As a bonus, because there's so much production on Chris' voice (just like previous hit "Beautiful People"), it could be anyone singing. Let's move swiftly on, shall we?
Number 67 "Overflow" by Man Meadow
I can't even remember where I heard this track - some blog or other - but what I didn't know until this very moment was that it's a cover of a song by Ditte Marie, which was entered into the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix (the Danish competition to find a Eurovision entry). "Overflow" wasn't chosen to represent Denmark, but did find a home with these two Swedish chaps.
Number 66 "Sense" by Amanda Mair
Aaah, Sweden, where would pop music be without you? Eighteen-year-old Amanda's single, "Doubt", made my top 100 for 2011, and she sneaks in under the radar again with this charming ditty. There's not much more to say, other than to suggest that if you're not familiar with her work, give this a spin.
Number 65 "Losing You" by Solange
Number 64 "Promises" by The Presets
If there was a course in How To Kill An Album, the strategy taken for Pacifica, the latest album by The Presets, would be the perfect case study. Instead of releasing this track, which is clearly the best song on the album, as the first or even second single, it was left until third and duds "Ghosts" (a sea shanty, really?) and "Youth In Trouble" came before it. Bad move.
Number 63 "Got To Get Out" by Vanbot
Robyn sound-alike Vanbot (real name Ester Ideskog) scored well on my top 100 for 2011 with the singles from her debut album - and this new song, which, from memory, was released as a free download this year, was another capable synthpop track. Obviously, she's also from Sweden.
Number 62 "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
"Call Me Maybe" is going to be much closer to the top of year-end charts around the world, since the debut single from the former Canadian Idol contestant and friend of Bieber sold by the truckload this year, but this is as good as it gets in my books. Good song, cute video but it's no "...Baby One More Time". Plus, unless she finds some better songs than those featured on her debut album, she'll have a much shorter stay in the charts.
Number 61 "Tonight" by Saint Etienne
The second and final appearance by the enduring British band rounds off this second batch of songs - and it's almost hard to believe that it's been over two decades since they released their first record. I've always much preferred Saint Etienne when they've released tracks like this and my personal favourite from 1995, "He's On The Phone", rather than their more introspective, downbeat stuff.
That's it until after Christmas, when I'll pick things back up with my 60 favourite songs for 2012, starting with Part 3. Happy holidays!
MY YEAR-END CHARTS