Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Best Of 2012 - part 3

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

With Christmas over for another year, it's time to continue with my list of favourite songs from 2012, and I'm up to the top 60.

Bruno Mars released one of my favourite albums for 2012

I mentioned previously that, since 2008, I include songs whether or not they were released as official singles - and in this portion of the list we'll find albums tracks, promotional singles and even a B-side (or I guess that should be called a bonus track). But, to start things off, we have an old-fashioned single...

Number 60 "DNA" by Little Mix

More often than not, I've become a fan of the winners of the UK version of The X Factor - with songs by Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry all featuring in my music collection. In 2012, the first group to win the competition became the latest act to join that list - with this single proving "Wings" was no one-off. Whether Little Mix will endure or instead follow many of their predecessors by quickly being dropped by Syco remains to be seen - but if they keep releasing songs like this, they stand a good chance of surviving.

Number 59 "A Certain 'Je Ne Sais Quoi'" by Pet Shop Boys

I've posted elsewhere about my disappointment with Pet Shop Boys' latest studio album, Elysium, with all three singles released from it failing to make my top 100 list for the year. Thankfully, it wasn't all bad news, with this B-side to "Winner" proving there was life in the old duo yet.

Number 58 "Figure 8" by Ellie Goulding

It's been an interesting couple of years for Ellie. In between her 2010 single, "Lights", making an agonisingly slow ascent to reach number 2 in the US this year and performing at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding reception in 2011, she also found time to release a new album, Halcyon. I wasn't so taken with first single "Anything Can Happen", but this second single became my favourite song of hers since "Starry Eyed".

Number 57 "The Veldt" by Deadmau5 featuring Chris James

He's the DJ (real name Joel Zimmerman) who wears the big mouse ears when he plays, and this song was his first release since 2008's "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" and "I Remember" to hit my radar, despite there being about a dozen other releases since then. Apparently, he found singer Chris James via Twitter - how very modern.

Number 56 "Get Lost" by Gossip

It's not that there were no good singles from Gossip's latest album, A Joyful Noise - as you'll see in the remainder of this list. It's just that this track, which features great Inner City-style chord progressions, was too good to ignore.

Number 55 "Locked Out Of Heaven" by Bruno Mars

When Bruno Mars gets it right ("Grenade", "Just The Way You Are"), he's one of the best singer/songwriters around today. When he doesn't, we end up with "The Lazy Song". Happily, the first single from second album Unorthodox Jukebox fell into the former category (despite the dodgy single cover above). Sounding like a long-lost song by The Police, "Locked Out Of Heaven" is only one of many great tunes on the album - so I expect he'll feature prominently in my end-of-year list for 2013.

Number 54 "Falling In Love" by Strange Talk

Aussie synthpop band Strange Talk feel a bit like the modern day version of Boxcar - their songs are accomplished enough to compete on the world stage, but they'll probably end up being all but ignored locally. However, this isn't the last we'll see of them on this list...

Number 53 "Play The Game Boy" by A*M*E

She was signed by Gary Barlow and is currently nominated for the Sound Of 2013 (a poll which, in previous years, has been won by Jessie J, Adele and Mika). Among other things, this track name checks Madonna's "Vogue", a song released four years before Aminata (or Amy) was even born. Now, that makes me feel old.

Number 52 "Beautiful World" by Westlife

All good things must come to an end - although, Westlife should probably have wound things up a while ago. I haven't liked a Westlife single since 2008, but this final track (which wasn't even given a full commercial release) is as good as almost anything they released in their glory days. And it came with a clip that features footage from throughout the boy band's career, with original member Brian (or Bryan, as he was then) McFadden all but expunged from history.

Number 51 "Is This Love" by Aiden Grimshaw

Another former contestant from the UK's The X Factor, Aiden competed in season seven in 2010 and only finished ninth, despite being one of the more interesting contestants that year. A record deal ensued, but this debut single didn't really set the UK chart alight, stalling at number 35.

Number 50 "OK Pal" by M83

Another track from the French band, who we saw back at number 93. "OK Pal" doesn't seem to have a music video but an audio clip is below. There's one more M83 song to come - and it's not "Midnight City", which wound up as my number 9 song for 2011.

Number 49 "All This Time" by Joe Jonas

Teen heartthrob in a hit boy band one minute, struggling solo artist the next. Joe Jonas' Fastlife album was meant to do for him what Justified had done for Justin Timberlake, but singles "See No More" and "Just In Love" stiffed, and this third single didn't even get a full release, even though a music video was released. With Nick's solo album also tanking (although a stint on Broadway and on TV's Smash proved successful) and Kevin turning to reality TV, it's no surprise a Jonas Brothers reunion was quickly announced.

Number 48 "The City" by Madeon

More French synthpop, this time from teen wunderkind Hugo Leclercq, whose "Pop Culture" mash-up made him an internet sensation in 2011. We'll be seeing more of him on this list and, I suspect, for some years to come.

Number 47 "Rocket Ship" by Dragonette

A synthpop act 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 46 "Every Now And Then" by Girls Aloud

I have very firm opinions on greatest hits albums. Everything from whether they should be called Best Of or Greatest Hits, to my preference for single edits and not album versions to be included, and for track listings to be chronological. So, I wasn't thrilled with Girls Aloud's Ten, which broke too many rules to mention. It did, however, include four new songs (which is pushing it, in my view), including this song. While not an official single, "Every Now And Then" is much better than ballad "Beautiful Cause You Love Me", which was chosen as the second release from the project. The first release? We'll get to that...

Number 45 "People Like Us" by Kelly Clarkson

Another new track from a career retrospective, and another song that has not yet been an official single, but I much preferred this to chosen single "Catch My Breath". I'm not sure about the Gaga-esque spoken word intro, but apart from that, it's another pop stormer from Ms Clarkson. I just hope there's a Chapter Two to her Greatest Hits, since so few artists who add Chapter One or Volume One to their album titles end up making it to a second instalment.

Number 44 "Alive" by Adrian Lux featuring The Good Natured

Kicking off a club triple play is this track by the Swedish producer/remixer with vocals by Sarah McIntosh from the British electronic group, whose single, "Skeleton", I liked in 2011. I don't know much more about either artist, but I do know I like this song.

Number 43 "Let's Go" Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo

Next, a couple of performers I'm sure we're all a lot more familiar with, since they've been chart mainstays the past few years. In fact, you couldn't get away from Calvin in 2012 if you tried, but quantity does not necessarily equal quality - and this is the only release from his 18 Months album to make this list. On the other hand, I'm only getting started with Ne-Yo.

Number 42 "Dancing In My Head" by Eric Turner vs Avicii

Here's yet another Swedish producer/remixer - Avicii (aka Tim Bergling), whose song "Levels" was massive for himself and as used by Flo Rida in 2011. The vocal on this track is by Swedish-based American artist Eric, best known for singing the hook on Tinie Tempah's "Written In The Stars" in 2010.

Number 41 "Crying Out Your Name" by Loreen

From Swedish club music to Swedish pop, and this is the first of three appearances on this list by the former Idol contestant and reigning Eurovision champion. "Crying Out Your Name" followed "Euphoria" into the Swedish charts, while the rest of the world was treated to a remix of her debut single, "My Heart Is Refusing Me".

In Part 4, the first appearances by a group that has three songs in the upper reaches of my top 100. Plus, a single by one of the new judges on the US version of The X Factor, and a track by arguably the biggest pop group in the world at the moment.

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