Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Best Of 2014 - part 3

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

We've now had six seasons of the Australian version of The X Factor and 11 seasons of the UK's - which means there's a seemingly endless supply of former contestants to clog up the charts, even taking into account the inevitable drop-off as some performers fall by the wayside.

Samantha Jade: one X Factor winner still going strong

In this batch of 20 songs, there are two entries by former X Factor finalists (one winner, one runner-up) - although not anyone who's competed on the shows in 2013 or 2014. I stopped watching either country's competition a couple of seasons ago and haven't really rated any of the music that's emerged from singers who've appeared in those seasons. But here's hoping Fleur East does something amazing in 2015 to change that.  

Number 60 "All Of Time" by Avec Sans

Some British synthpop from the duo of Alice Fox and Jack St James, who just missed my top 100 for 2013 with the single "Shiver". It's a different story in 2014, with "All Of Time" marking them out as an electronic act to watch in 2015.

Number 59 "Turn Back Time" by Sub Focus

He's been plugging away, releasing music since 2003, but it hasn't been until the last few years that Nick Douwma (aka Sub Focus) has found major success. The sixth single from most recent album Torus, "Turn Back Time" is his biggest hit to date - and one of two appearances in this batch of songs.

Number 58 "Save My Night" by Armin van Buuren

He made two appearances in my top 100 for 2013, and at the end of that year, Dutch DJ/producer Armin van Buuren released a deluxe version of his Intense album (The More Intense Edition), which included the Faithless-ish "Save My Night" as one of two new tracks. 

Number 57 "Wrapped Up" by Olly Murs featuring Travie McCoy

His fourth album might be called Never Been Better, but as it turns out, Olly Murs has seen better days. This album is his only one not to have its lead single go to number 1 in the UK, with "Wrapped Up" having to settle for a chart peak there of number 3. In truth, it's not as good a song as "Troublemaker" or "Heart Skips A Beat", but in a pretty dud year for pure pop, I'll take what I can get.

Number 56 "10 Million People" by Example

We've seen him once on this top 100 already (in Part 1) with "One More Day (Stay With Me)" - and here's the follow-up, which not only didn't follow its predecessor into the UK top 5, but didn't hit the chart there at all. Pity.

Number 55 "Get Away" by CHVRCHES

After countless (OK, six) singles have been released and re-released from CHVRCHES' debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, the Scottish trio got around to unveiling something new towards the end of 2014. "Get Away" was part of a project revamping the soundtrack to the 2011 Ryan Gosling film Drive, with a bunch of acts like CHVRCHES, the similarly capitalised SBTRKT and Foals contributing new tracks that have been added to a revised version of the movie.

Number 54 "What I Must Find" by For BDK

The Swedish duo comprised of singer Adele Kosman and producer Marcus Borrman describe their sound as "emotional post electronic". In layman's terms that means Scandi synthpop, and "What I Must Find" is a textbook example of the genre. The single is taken from debut album For Body Drugs & Kicks, which I guess explains the band name (or at least what it stands for).

Number 53 "Everything We Touch" by Say Lou Lou

When sisters Elektra and Miranda Kilbey-Jansson made my top 100 for 2013 with "Beloved", I didn't realise the first part of their surname came from Steve Kilbey of The Church, who just happens to be their dad. "Everything We Touch" is another dreamy slice of synthpop that suggests their upcoming debut album, Lucid Dreaming, might be pretty good. We'll see the girls again shortly...

Number 52 "Close" by Sub Focus

We saw the sixth single from Torus earlier, and here's the seventh - although, like Calvin Harris' 18 Months, a good number of the singles actually came out quite a while before the album. On Torus, vocals on "Close" were performed by co-writer MNEK - but by the time the single rolled around, they were substituted for new vocals by Daniel Pearce, who as well as singing on the Sigma track, used to be in One True Voice, the boy band formed by Popstars: The Rivals (the reality show that also spawned Girls Aloud).

Number 51 "Solo Dancing" by Indiana

As the song title suggests, Indiana is not a duo, but the stage name of British singer Lauren Henson, who cracked the UK chart on her fourth attempt with "Solo Dancing". Having said that, she does work with songwriter/producer John Beck (whose biggest claim to fame is co-writing Tasmin Archer's "Sleeping Satellite"). John has worked on the majority of her six singles to date, which will all feature on her debut album, No Romeo, due out in the next couple of weeks. 

Number 50 "I Believe" by Jessica Mauboy

This track from the Beautiful album that Jessica Mauboy performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was one of a handful of special projects Jess was involved with in 2014 - a list which included an all-star recording of "I Am Australian" and her Eurovision Song Contest appearance singing "Sea Of Flags". In between all that, she also managed to release proper singles, "Never Be The Same" and "Can I Get A Moment?" from the original and deluxe versions of Beautiful respectively. 


Number 49 "Blue Sky Action" by Above & Beyond featuring Alex Vargas

I can't even remember how I stumbled onto this song - possibly Soundcloud - since despite their decade-plus recording career, I'd never heard anything by trance act Above & Beyond before. This track from forthcoming album We Are All We Need features vocals from Alex Vargas, one-time member of Xenomania-produced band Vagabond.

Number 48 "Reason" by Erasure

They did it in 2005 and also in 2007 - and in 2014, Erasure once again restored my faith in them after some particularly disappointing releases. One of my favourite acts of all time thanks to their '80s and '90s output, the duo of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have been anything but consistent in recent decades, but "Reason" shows they've still got a few good songs left in them. Partial credit must go to the song's co-writer and co-producer Richard X, who worked on the entire Violet Flame album.

Number 47 "Dare You" by Hardwell featuring Matthew Koma

The Dutch DJ/producer (real name: Robbert van de Corput) is yet to release his debut album, but has been putting out singles since 2007 with middling success in the Netherlands. "Dare You", which features Matthew Koma (who was also the voice of Ti√ęsto's "Wasted" in 2014), was Hardwell's first single to cross over and chart in the UK.

Number 46 "Up!" by Samantha Jade

Here's out second X Factor alumnus, but unlike Olly Murs, Samantha Jade doesn't even seem to be permitted to release albums. "Up!" is one of a string of singles to emerge since her obligatory post-victory rush-job album in 2012 - and while there's a lot to be said for regularly releasing individual tracks instead bothering with an album full of filler, it does seem odd for an artist of her profile to subscribe to the Justice Crew method of recording (and even they finally got around to putting an album out this year).

Number 45 "We Sink" by CHVRCHES

More CHVRCHES, and the fifth and, in my opinion, best single from The Bones Of What You Believe. Unlike some albums that spawn multiple singles since they continue to perform well, in the case of CHVRCHES, it seemed to be a case of issuing and reissuing singles until one of them was successful. But despite all the effort, the best UK chart achievement came for the second release of "The Mother We Share", which peaked at number 38.

Number 44 "Imperium" by Madeon

Back in 2012, when he was all of 18 years old, French house prodigy Hugo Leclercq (aka Madeon) registered two entries on my year-end top 100 - and now he's back, almost doing the same thing again as a 20-year-old. "Imperium" is the lead single from Madeon's forthcoming debut album, Adventure, and it was followed by "You're On", which just fell short of my top 100.

Number 43 "Instant Crush" by Say Lou Lou

Here's Say Lou Lou again, and free promotional release "Instant Crush" was their version of the Daft Punk single, originally performed by the French duo with Julian Casablancas. Have to say, I like their version better.

Number 42 "Hideaway" by Kiesza

It might be her debut single, but this isn't the first appearance by Canadian vocalist Kiesza (real name: Kiesa Ellestad) on one of my year-end charts - she provided vocals for Donkeyboy's "Triggerfinger", which placed in my top 100 for 2013. Featuring one of the year's best videos - mid-song stumble and all - "Hideaway" is one of several songs on this list to wear its '90s influences on its sleeve.

Number 41 "Kiss Me Once" by Kylie Minogue

Kylie's third and final entry on this list is my favourite song from Kiss Me Once, but the title track, which was co-written by the album's co-executive producer Sia Furler, was never even in contention for single status. I'd like to think that if it had been a single, it would have been a big hit and saved the album, but I'm not sure what it's going to take for Kylie to have another chart-topping hit.

In Part 4: more solo singles from former featured artists, guest appearances from established acts and every other permutation of collaborations possible.

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