Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Best Of 2012 - part 4

JUMP TO: 100-81 II 80-61 II 60-41 II 40-21 II 20-1


If you've checked out the first 60 songs in my top 100 for 2012, you might have noticed there's been a fair bit of synthpop so far. For anyone who's read my posts covering my favourite songs from each year of the 1980s, that fact shouldn't really come as any surprise, since I've clearly always been partial to that genre.

After a brief solo outing, Beth Ditto was back in the Gossip fold in 2012

But, even though I'm naturally inclined to favour that style of music, it has been a particularly strong few years for synthpop - pretty much the best era for the genre since its explosion in the early '80s. Certainly better than the '90s. As we continue my countdown from number 40 to number 21, the synthpop will come thick and fast...


Number 40 "Warrior" by Kimbra featuring Mark Foster & A-Trak


Until now, I was unaware of Converse's Three Artists, One Song campaign, in which the footwear company collects three seemingly random musicians and has them collaborate on a track. In 2012, New Zealand songstress Kimbra, whose collaboration with Gotye went nuts internationally this year; Mark Foster, the singer of Foster The People; and Canadian DJ/producer A-Trak united on "Warrior", which easily became my favourite single by anyone involved.




Number 39 "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin


It was a good year for music from Sweden - and 2012 was a great year for these guys (Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello), who went from clubland kings to pop chart conquerors. Seems an inopportune time to announce the dissolution of their partnership, but 2013 will see their final concerts together. I wasn't an instant convert to this song, thinking it to be just another generic dance track - but I'll happily admit it won me over.




Number 38 "Cast Away" by Strange Talk


A second appearance on this list for the Australian synthpop group, who were back at number 54 with the much clubbier "Falling In Love". This earlier single is a more traditional pop song, so I'll be interested to see what sound they'll settle on for the rest of their debut album (due early 2013).




Number 37 "Lie To Me" by The Wanted


One Direction might have completely stolen their thunder, but I much prefer this British boy band - and this overlooked gem from the Battleground album is another reason why. Some of The Wanted's singles may not hit the mark (case in point: the experiment in falsetto that was "I Found You"), but at least they're musically adventurous.




Number 36 "Move In The Right Direction" by Gossip


I'd liked quite a bit of what Gossip had done in the past, but they really got it right with A Joyful Noise, from which this was the second single. Pity the rest of the world (except a couple of European countries) didn't see it that way, with the album failing to make as big an impact as it should have.




Number 35 "Stupid Mistake" by Darren Hayes


Another artist not enjoying the level of success they'd experienced previously is the former Savage Garden frontman, despite Secret Codes And Battleships being his best effort since his debut solo set, Spin. This fourth single came with a video in which Darren transformed himself into a clown, something he did during his most recent tour of Australia. It didn't really work on stage and I don't get it in video form either. Still, the song's good.




Number 34 "Silver Moon" by Donkeyboy


Proving there's more to Scandinavian pop than music from Sweden, this Norwegian synthpop group released what ended up as my favourite album for 2012. The title track to SIlver Moon ended up as the third of what could have been an endless stream of singles from the album.




Number 33 "Feel The Love" by Rudimental featuring John Newman


It often surprises me which UK dance tracks cross over to have chart success in Australia and which ones don't. This UK chart-topper falls into the former category, also journeying to the upper reaches of the ARIA top 50 despite the drum and bass style not being one that's been that successful in the past.




Number 32 "Rocket Ship" by Dragonette


A synthpop band that has nothing to do with Europe, Dragonette hail from Canada and have been getting better and better the past few years. Best known for their collaborations with DJ Martin Solveig, the group is fronted by Martina Sorbara, who has done the reverse of many singers and pursued a solo career prior to finding success with Dragonette. This song was a free download released between official singles from the Bodyparts album - but was a strong enough track to land on this list.




Number 31 "Vacation" by Alphabeat


How I have loved Danish pop group Alphabeat over the past few years. As well as releasing some of my favourite singles from the late '00s, they had become more sophisticated with each release... until this year, when I feel like they took a bit of a step backwards. Clearly, I still enjoyed this single enough for it to land this high, but musically and lyrically it was a bit twee. Follow-up "Love Sea" was also a little disappointing. There are stronger tracks on latest album Express Non-Stop, but the edge they showed on 2009's The Beat Is... seems to have made way for an increase in cheese.




Number 30 "Lost In Your Love" by Redlight


You could crank this UK dance track and party like it's 1991, such is the resemblance of "Lost In Your Love" to the music of Bizarre Inc and Bassheads. I love dance music from that era (especially tunes with big piano chords) so this was preaching to the converted as far as I was concerned.




Number 29 "Give Your Heart A Break" by Demi Lovato


Until this song, I hadn't rated any of the new generation of Disney or Nickelodeon singer/actresses, but in "Give Your Heart A Break", the former Sonny With A Chance star found her "Genie In A Bottle". And, by co-starring alongside fellow ex-Disney star Britney Spears on the US version of The X Factor, Demi proved she's got the personality to back up the voice.




Number 28 "Brokenhearted" by Karmin


Sounding like Katy Perry with edge, this song by the American duo is pretty much perfect pop. Whether Karmin will go on to be a one-hit wonder remains to be seen, but nothing on their EP, Hello, came anywhere closing to matching this worldwide hit. 




Number 27 Late (EP) by Florrie


In 2011, two of the singles lifted from Florrie's last EP, Experiments, made my end-of-year list separately, but in 2012, I lumped the four tracks on Late together - probably because I favoured "I'm Gonna Get You Back" (linked to in the song title above) and "To The End" (below) over the chosen single, "Shot You Down". A drummer and songwriter for the Xenomania production team, Florrie has consistently released great pop songs over the past few years - and it feels as though her career is only just getting started.




Number 26 "Perfect World" by Gossip


Speaking of Xenomania, one of the reasons I liked Gossip's latest album so much just might have something to do with the fact that it's produced by Brian Higgins, one of the founders of the production team. "Perfect World" was the first single from A Joyful Noise and gave Gossip a polish they'd lacked before, without taking away any of the group's inherent personality - no mean feat.




Number 25 "Chokehold" by Adam Lambert


Trespassing should have been every bit as successful as Adam's first album, For Your Entertainment. So why hasn't it been? The answer's simple: poor single choices. With the exception of "Never Close Our Eyes", the singles have been among the weakest tracks on a potential hit-laden album. "Chokehold" was always one of the tracks that stood out most to me, and so here it is on my list instead of the title track, which should only ever have been an album track.




Number 24 "One Thing" One Direction


Despite releasing a stack of singles in 2012, this track from 1D's debut album is the only one to make my top 100. Had there been no "One Thing", later single "Live While We're Young" might have fared better, but it's essentially a retread of the same formula. Thankfully, the group branched out towards the end of the year with "Little Things" - and if they can keep mixing things up like that, they have a chance of longevity, since there are only so many songs that sound the same the boys can get away with.




Number 23 "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida


Back in Part 1, we saw a Jennifer Lopez song to which nothing was added by the presence of Pitbull, and here we find an Olly Murs track to which nothing is added by the presence of music's most over-utilised guest performer, Flo Rida. Former UK X Factor finalist (yes, another one) Olly comes up with the goods every so often (most recently, on last year's "Heart Skips A Beat") and he finally landed himself an Australian hit with this undeniably catchy tune.




Number 22 "Drive" by Donkeyboy


The best Norwegian band since a-ha score another slot on my chart with this excellent album track. Who knows, it may end up being a single since the group released six from their debut album (one of which was "Ambitions", later covered by UK X Factor winner Joe McElderry) and they're only up to three from Silver Moon.




Number 21 "Echo" by Foxes


My current favourite track is this one by an artist I've just discovered - but better late to the party than never, I say. Foxes is the stage name for Louisa Rose Allen, who changed her name to avoid confusion with Lily Rose Allen (now Cooper). Starting off in a rather understated way, "Echoes" really gets going around the 0:54 mark, when the massive chorus kicks in.




My top 20 songs for 2012 are still to come on New Year's Eve. I know what my number 1 is - any guesses?


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016



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