Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Best Of 2017 - part 5

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


Even in a year that hasn't been the best for new music, the top 20 songs on my annual chart are a pretty solid list. Let's start counting down to the inevitable (and no, I don't mean Ed Sheeran)... 




It'd been a few years since we'd heard music from (as opposed to remixes by) Monsieur Adi, the French DJ/producer who featured in my year-end top 100s for 2013 and 2014. Then, at the tail end of 2016, he returned with "Bad Habits", but it was this year's "Stay Up Late", featuring a thrilling vocal by Red (aka former The X Factor contestant Nicole Simpson), that proved he was back on form. 







I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled when I discovered "Neon Blue" was picked as the third single from Steps's comeback album, Tears On The Dancefloor - I would've chosen a song we'll see in a little while. To me, it felt like it could've been released in 1999, while many of the songs on the new album sound more current. But as its placement here suggests, I came around in the end. It's classic Steps - on a par with, say, "Better Best Forgotten" or "Here And Now" - although one thing that does distinguish it from their previous hits is that Lee gets a decent solo.







Here's another song that sounds like it could've come out years ago. The second single from Automaton, "Cloud 9" has a similar vibe to 2005's "Seven Days In Sunny June" - a breezy disco ballad with a killer melody.







Up until a month or so ago, this UK chart-topper and ARIA chart number 2 hit didn't make my top 100. I understood the appeal of the song and its music video, but I just found the melody a bit underwhelming, especially after "Hotter Than Hell". But it's amazing what a bit of '80s production can do for my interest in a song. Inspired by Stacey Q's "Two Of Hearts"Japanese producer Initial Talk created an unofficial remix of "New Rules" that made it the aerobics soundtrack it never was - and then, to her credit, Dua gave an official release the green light. 







One good '80s remix deserves another - and there are few remixers who can capture that moment in time better than Pete Hammond, the former PWL staffer responsible for countless mixes in the late '80s, and more recent throwback remixes for Kylie Minogue, Mini Viva, Alphabeat and Parralox. This year, he teamed up with the latter again to transform this single from the Subculture album into a glorious burst of nostalgic synthpop.







Three years after "Hideaway" and its one-shot music video, Kiesza returned at the very start of 2017 with brand new track "Dearly Beloved". The seemingly buoyant song was actually inspired by the death of her friend, musician Alicia Lemke, whose white guitar the Canadian singer plays in the music video.







Unlike the track we saw from them in Part 1, this most recent single from Chase & Status is very much what I would expect from the duo behind "Lost And Not Found" and "Count On Me". It's also not a million miles away from Emeli Sandé's "Heaven", making me think the collaboration would've been massive five years ago. In 2017, unfortunately, it wasn't the hit it deserved to be.







Here's the Tears On The Dancefloor track I would've released as third single - Steps' version of Lara Fabian's English-language debut from 2000. A minor hit in Australia and a flop in the UK for the Belgian singer, "I Will Love Again" was a great choice for a remake.







Just when it looked like Rita Ora was going to pull a Samantha Mumba and abandon her music career in favour of exploring opportunities in Hollywood, the singer/actress/reality TV host returned in 2017 with a pair of pop hits (and a feature on an Avicii track that's just outside my top 100). "Your Song" was good (and also just missed by top 100), but "Anywhere" put her back in "I Will Never Let You Down" territory. 







Proof that even the biggest artists in the world can hit a speed bump in their career, Katy Perry's fifth album, Witness, faced mixed reviews, singles under-performing and sales well below what she'd come to expect. And yet, it contained the best song she's ever released as far as I'm concerned.







The original was one of the biggest singles of En Vogue's career and 21 years later, the moody R&B track was transformed into a veritable banger courtesy of British DJ/producer James Hype and singer Kelli-Leigh Henry-Davilla, who actually received a credit for her work, unlike on previous hits she'd performed on by Duke Dumont and Secondcity







After appearing on one of the biggest singles in ARIA chart history (The Chainsmokers' "Closer") in 2016, Halsey's second album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, was one of the most anticipated of 2017. And one of its most buzzed about tracks was "Strangers", the promotional single featuring Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui that delved into a relationship between two women that's gone sour.







Solidifying his status as the best Jonas brother, Nick Jonas released his best single yet in "Find You". The acoustic guitar-meets-dance track was co-written and produced by Swedes Svante Halldin and Jakob Hazell (aka Jack & Coke), who were behind my 2012 number 1, "Euphoria" by Loreen







While Nick Jonas traipses around the desert in the video for "Find You", Dutch DJ/producer Julian Jordan shot his clip in - and got inspiration for "Say Love" from - the freezing landscape of Iceland. The tender electronic track is a departure from Julian's normally harder club-oriented sound.







Twenty-year-old American singer Grace Mitchell has been busy in 2017, releasing upwards of half a dozen singles that span a variety of genres. Naturally, since it appears here, "Now" is the poppiest of those songs - a hand-clapping, big chorused celebration of being in the now.







Just when I'd given up hope that 2017 had anything else brilliant to offer, this Scandipop gem from Swedish singer Anni Bernhard (who goes by Full Of Keys professionally) sneaked out at the end of November. With one of the biggest choruses of the year, "Don't Look Back" was her first new song in over a year-and-a-half.  







Thank goodness for Carly Rae Jepsen and her dedication to big pop moments. While many of her contemporaries do their downright best to avoid anything remotely approaching a melody, the Canadian singer continues to release uplifting, exuberant music, like "Cut To The Feeling", which was recorded during the sessions for the Emotion album but only ended up seeing the light of day after it was used in animated film Ballerina.







Of course not all pop needs to be happy, as this angst-ridden single from PVRIS proves. The second appearance on this list by the electro-rock trio comprised of singer Lynn Gunn, guitarist Alex Babinski and bass player Brian MacDonald, "What's Wrong" is big on energy, emotion and hooks.







Separately, they've been incredibly consistent performers the past few years, with a combined tally of nine singles in my year-end top 100s between 2013 and 2016. Clearly more powerful together than they've ever been apart, dance acts Duke Dumont and Gorgon City both achieve their highest rank in 2017 with "Real Life", a '90s piano house-influenced track with vocals handled by NAATIONS (the Australian duo comprised of Nat Dunn and Van She's Nicholas Routledge).






If you've flicked through my year-end charts from 1998 to 2001, this should really come as no surprise. Steps took out my number 1 spot in the first three of those years (and were at number 4 in 2001), and given "Scared Of The Dark" didn't venture too far away from their brand of perky pop, it was always going to be odds-on favourite to end up as my favourite song for 2017. And so here it is, with all the elements you'd expect - a slow-to-fast intro, a soaring chorus, nods to ABBA, a key change and the obligatory join-in-at-home dance routine. The best of turn-of-the-millennium pop wrapped in 2017 pop/dance production. Welcome back, Steps.





My top 150 for 2017 in full:

1          SCARED OF THE DARK Steps
2          REAL LIFE Duke Dumont x Gorgon City featuring NAATIONS
3          WHAT’S WRONG PVRIS
4          CUT TO THE FEELING Carly Rae Jepsen
5          DON’T LOOK BACK Full Of Keys
6          NOW Grace Mitchell
7          SAY LOVE Julian Jordan x SJ
8          FIND YOU Nick Jonas
9          STRANGERS Halsey featuring Lauren Jauregui
10        MORE THAN FRIENDS James Hype featuring Kelli-Leigh
11        ROULETTE Katy Perry
12        ANYWHERE Rita Ora
13        I WILL LOVE AGAIN Steps
14        LOVE ME MORE Chase & Status featuring Emeli Sandé
15        DEARLY BELOVED Kiesza
16        ELECTRIC NIGHTS (PETE HAMMOND MIX) Parralox
17        NEW RULES / INITIAL TALK REMIX Dua Lipa
18        CLOUD 9 Jamiroquai
19        NEON BLUE Steps
20        STAY UP LATE Monsieur Adi featuring Red
21        I FEEL ALIVE IMRI
22        MOVE SLOW Magdalena Bay
23        DANCING WITH A BROKEN HEART Steps
24        BREAKING KIND Steve Angello featuring Paul Meany
25        HAIDE Helena Paparizou
26        GALAXY Dannii Minogue
27        DISCONNECT Clean Bandit and Marina & The Diamonds
28        MY CONSEQUENCE Hey Violet
29        SUN COMES UP Rudimental featuring James Arthur
30        FEEL THE NIGHT Luxxury
31        DO IT Rae Morris
32        AUTOMATON Jamiroquai
33        HOME Joe Goddard
34        SUPERFRESH Jamiroquai
35        STRANGERS Sigrid
36        SKELETONS MY
37        THIS SUMMER Sigrid Bernson
38        DON’T TAKE THE MONEY Bleachers
39        FAKE FRIENDS Sigrid
40        WINTER PVRIS
41        BAD THINGS Noella Nix
42        LADY POWERS Vera Blue
43        NOBODY Niia
44        NO MORE SAD SONGS Little Mix
45        DARK LOVE Miami Horror featuring Danny Pratt
46        WON’T SAY TOO MUCH Liv Lovelle
47        BACK IN THE ROOM KLP
48        BEAUTIFUL LIFE The Sound Of Arrows
49        BURNING ECHOES Storme
50        OVERNIGHT Parcels
51        MAN IN THE MOON LCAW featuring Dagny
52        WHITE WING DOVE Priest
53        ONE OF US Nina
54        NEVER STOP FM-84 featuring Ollie Wride
55        STORY OF A HEART Steps
56        ANYMORE Goldfrapp
57        DON’T WORRY The Sound Of Arrows
58        SUNROOF courtship.
59        MOVING ON Roosevelt
60        BACK FOR ME Electric Guest
61        HOT2TOUCH Felix Jaehn, Hight & Alex Aiono
62        SOUNDING THE ALARM The Pigeon Detectives
63        SUPERNATURAL Bright Sparks
64        DIVE IN KYKO
65        READY TO GO Hurts
66        LOS AGELESS St Vincent
67        CLAP YOUR HANDS Le Youth featuring Ava Max
68        LOVERS StéLouse featuring Brave
69        FEELS Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean
70        BEAUTIFUL ONES Hurts
71        CELEBRATE Sigrid Bernson
72        THE CURE Lady Gaga
73        EYES WIDE OPEN Scavenger Hunt
74        ALREADY THERE ARY
75        SOMEONE Anna Of The North
76        LOVE IN RUINS Gryffin featuring Sinead Harnett
77        UNPREDICTABLE Olly Murs / Louisa Johnson
78        IN THE WATER Nakita
79        HEAVY Powers
80        TAKE ME ON joan
81        CALL ON ME (RYAN RIBACK REMIX) Starley
82        HOPELESS DREAMS Stockholm Noir
83        IS YOUR LOVE ENOUGH? Little Mix
84        BOY LIKE A GIRL Stockholm Noir featuring Ofelia
85        UNCONDITIONAL Sinead Harnett
86        RIVER Adrees
87        ISLAND Stockholm Noir
88        MAKE YOUR MOVE Ronika
89        SAY IT TO MY FACE Maty Noyes
90        CROSS MY MIND A R I Z O N A featuring Kiiara
91        GONE ionnalee
92        WATERSLIDES Pixx
93        THIS MOMENT Chase & Status and Blossoms
94        MOVE YOUR BODY Sia
95        CHASING HIGHS (ROOSEVELT MIX) Alma
96        DANGEROUS Glades
97        GAIA Sacre
98        UNUSUAL RAC featuring MNDR
99        LOVER LIKE YOU Rudie Edwards
100      EMPTY BLOCKINGS Amanda Mair
101      WOULD YOU MIND PrettyMuch
102      YOUR SONG Rita Ora
103      POWER Little Mix featuring Stormzy
104      TECHNO PARTIES Lustgas
105      SOS LKA
106      LONELY TOGETHER Avicii featuring Rita Ora
107      OUT OF MY HEAD Loote
108      ATLETICO (THE ONLY ONE) Rae Morris
109      THERE FOR YOU Eves Karydas
110      I KNOW Aly & AJ
111      I NEED YOU Luxxury
112      THE CALL Sacre
113      GOLD ANGEL (SAVOIR ADORE MIX) Minke
114      GOOD TIMES KLP
115      ON MY MIND Disciples
116      HEARTLINE Craig David
117      DON’T YOU FEEL IT Sub Focus featuring ALMA
118      HUMAN NATURE Paperwhite
119      YOURS Now, Now
120      HOLD ON Flor
121      CRYING ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR Muna
122      TEASE Ralph
123      CRYBABY Paloma Faith
124      LOVE YOU LIKE THAT Dagny
125      HIGH ON ME Guy Sebastian
126      LOVE SO SOFT Kelly Clarkson
127      I CAN’T GO ON Robin Bengtsson
128      WARRIORS Tigertown
129      WALK AWAY Le Youth
130      JEALOUSY Disciples
131      GRAB THE MOMENT JOWST
132      IMPOSSIBLE Steve Lipson featuring Avec Sans
133      RUNNING BACK TO YOU Bright Light Bright Light with Elton John
134      WE ARE Avec Sans
135      SWEET DREAMS BØRNS
136      PHYSICAL The Aces
137      WHAT ABOUT US Pink
138      SYMPHONY Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson
139      GLOW IN THE DARK Force Major
140      CHAINED TO THE RHYTHM Katy Perry featuring Skip Marley
141      DYING TO KNOW Tegan & Sara
142      PLOT TWIST Sigrid
143      CASTLE ON THE HILL Ed Sheeran
144      OSLO Anna Of The North
145      SHAPE OF YOU Ed Sheeran
146      YOU DON’T KNOW ME Jax Jones featuring RAYE
147      A MILLION SONGS Sophia Somajo
148      ALPHABET BLOCK Marnie
149      I WANNA DANCE WITH YOU AGAIN Band Of Gold
150      GO TO WORK Nadine


Yep, only 150 songs on the full list this year. Let's hope 2018 has more to offer. My 25 Years Ago... recaps return on January 10, with the first chart of 1993. If I have time, I'll sneak something else in before then.


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 II 2017


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