Monday, 31 December 2012

The Best Of 2012 - part 5

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

Here it is: the moment we've all been waiting for... or something. Ready to launch into my top 20 songs for 2012?

Loreen proved she's no one-hit wonder - at least in my book

We've seen the majority of the acts in my top 20 already in my top 100, but that's just the kind of year it was in music - the good artists were consistently good and everyone else kind of sucked.

Number 20 "Sharper Than A Knife (Pete Hammond Remix)" by Parralox

Boasting the best lyric video ever made - in which single artwork from classic '80s songs by the likes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Depeche Mode and Divine are brought to life - this new mix of Parralox's 2008 single also featured a contribution from another important '80s source: Pete Hammond, the legendary PWL "mix master" responsible for mixing countless Stock Aitken Waterman hits. In recent years, Pete's also provided era-channelling mixes for Alphabeat and Kylie Minogue.

Number 19 "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)" by Ne-Yo

I've always been a big fan of Ne-Yo's, who writes R&B songs with lyrics I actually want to listen to and melodies that sound classic without being dated. Like Usher, he started injecting his music with dance influences long before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon and although that meant some of his songs, like "Beautiful Monster", were much bigger in Europe than the States, his homeland has caught up with him and he's a top 10 act there once again.

Number 18 "Scream" by Usher

Speaking of Usher, here he is again with another dance floor-ready tune from his latest album. Looking 4 Myself also spawned downbeat R&B singles like "Dive" and "Climax", which wound up at numbers 162 and 198 respectively on my end-of-year list, so it's clear which style I prefer Usher's songs to come in these days.

Number 17 "Live In This City" by Dragonette

Back again, this time with an official single from Bodyparts, which I downloaded from iTunes as soon as it came out. I opted for the deluxe version since some bonus tracks end up being the best songs on an album. That wasn't the case with Bodyparts and the standard version would have been just fine.

Number 16 "Satellite" by The Wanted

Capitalising on the British boy band's success in the States thanks to "Glad You Came", a self-titled EP comprising tracks from both of their studio albums to date was released, with two new songs thrown in for good measure. We saw one of them, "Chasing The Sun", back at number 41 and "Satellite" was the other one - and although it wasn't released as a single, it was the track I preferred.

Number 15 "My Heart Is Refusing Me (Remix)" by Loreen

The international follow-up single to the Eurovision-winning "Euphoria", "My Heart Is Refusing Me" was actually Loreen's debut single back in 2011. Despite being given a fresh mix for the re-release, it didn't follow "Euphoria" to the top of charts across Europe.

Number 14 "Burn It Down" by Ricki-Lee

Of the six singers who finished higher than Ricki-Lee Coulter in the second season of Australian Idol, only one (Anthony Callea) has had as much success as she has - and, since 2004, she's tried her hand at pretty much everything! Along the way, she's released a string of decent pop tunes - the best being "Sunshine" and "Breathe" - but I've been waiting for that one classic pop moment. Finally, in 2012, "Burn It Down" came along. Unfortunately, it was left until single number four from her latest album, which might limit its chart chances. Nevertheless, it's the best thing she's ever done.

Number 13 "Heartbreak On Hold" by Alexandra Burke

Talk about a disappointment. The former winner of the UK version of The X Factor released an outstanding debut album in 2009, full of fun pop tunes that really tapped into her vibrant personality. The two lead singles from album number two, "Elephant" and "Let It Go", were the opposite of fun and devoid of personality - which might be the reason they both bombed in the UK. It wasn't all bad news, with this title track from Heartbreak On Hold providing a glimmer of pop gold, but whether Alexandra's music career lives to see another day remains to be seen.

Number 12 "Forever Now" by Ne-Yo

Another entry from Ne-Yo, with the latest single from R.E.D., which stands for Realizing Every Dream and shouldn't be confused with Taylor Swift's similarly titled album.

Number 11 "Timebomb" by Kylie Minogue

In case you missed it, 2012 was the 25th anniversary of Kylie's debut as a music star - and part of the celebrations included this one-off single, which was released with little warning back in May. While Kylie's fanbase snapped it up, "Timebomb" didn't go on to be that big a hit, probably because no one else was aware it was out. Still, it performed better than her other 2012 single, "Flower", which completely missed both the Australian top 50 and UK top 75.

Number 10 "Come For Me" Moonlight Matters featuring Gustaph

We've visited a lot of European countries so far in this list, but one that's yet to be represented is Belgium, home to Technotronic, 2 Unlimited, DHT and Junior Jack. Moonlight Matters can now be added to that, er, auspicious list - with the dance act, together with Hercules And Love Affair singer Gustaph, making waves with this joyful single. Those waves might be better referred to as ripples at this stage, but I'm hopeful there's bigger things to come in 2013.

Number 9 "Let It Go" by Dragonette

Leapfrogging "Boys & Girls" and "Fixin' To Thrill" to become my favourite Dragonette song  to date is this first single from the Bodyparts album.

Number 8 "Something New" by Girls Aloud

With possibly the most literal song title of the year, "Something New" is exactly that from the British girl group who turned 10 this year - and marked the occasion with the just-as-literally titled greatest hits collection, Ten. At first, I rated this only as highly as a "Sexy! No No No..." but by year's end, I was enjoying it as much as a "No Good Advice". But, while this new track was a worthy addition to their catalogue, it's likely that once 2013's reunion tour is done and dusted, that will mark the end of the road for the Postars: The Rivals winners. Sad as that day will be, it's impressive the girls have remained intact this long (lengthy hiatus notwithstanding) and given the new century some of it best pop moments.

Number 7 "Love Stuck" by Dream Beats featuring The Face

Like many of the songs on this list, I was introduced to "Love Stuck" by Popjustice, the thirtysomething's equivalent of Smash Hits. However, managing to buy a copy of the track was not so straightforward - and despite having iTunes accounts in two countries, I couldn't add it to my collection. Thankfully, the generous guys in Dream Beats forwarded me an MP3 of the song when I asked on Facebook if it would be available to buy. It might not be the most lucrative way for the group to share their music with fans, but it sure made my day.

Number 6 "Pull Of The Eye" by Donkeyboy

I'm not entirely sure what this song's about, but lyrical confusion aside, "Pull Of The Eye" quickly became my favourite song by the Norwegian group this year.

Number 5 "Finale" by Madeon

Kicking off my top five is the French prodigy we saw back at number 48, who Wikipedia claims began composing music at age 11. Me, I was probably still playing with my Star Wars figures in my treehouse at that age.

Number 4 "Never Close Our Eyes" by Adam Lambert

Like Alexandra Burke, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert had great success with his first album and struggled somewhat with his second release. In this case, Adam had much better songs to work with, but also chose some questionable singles - although he got it right with this second track lifted from Trespassing, which should have been a much bigger hit than it was.

Number 3 "Reunion" by M83

For the month of December 2011, M83's "Midnight City" was my favourite song - and it was quickly followed by "Reunion", which spent all of January this year as my top track. Up until then, I'd been completely unaware of the group, which has actually been releasing music since 2001, but with very little success until now.

Number 2 "Wings" by Little Mix

Unlike this year's UK season of The X Factor, I actually watched the entirety of 2011's competition - but didn't rate Little Mix (or Rhythmix, as they were originally called) until halfway through the live finals. I don't think I was alone in being late to the Little Mix party, and like many other viewers I wondered if they'd emerge as a girl group force to be reckoned with. When it was finally released in August, "Wings" proved to be worth the wait and although there's nothing as good on debut album DNA, I hope they stick around for a while longer and deliver more pop moments as good as this.

Number 1 "Euphoria" by Loreen

It was inevitable, really. Each year, some friends and I have a Eurovision viewing party - complete with in-depth scoring sheets - and for the first year in ages, my favourite song actually took out the competition. With such a vote of confidence behind it, "Euphoria" by Swedish entrant Loreen quickly became my favourite song at the time - and now ends up on top at the conclusion of the year. It's the first time a Eurovision entry has topped my year-end chart since 1996, when Gina G's "Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit" held pride of place. And, like Gina, Loreen went on to release more songs I liked - as we've seen at numbers 15 and 42. I only hope she doesn't suffer the same fate of record label wranglings and legal disputes.

My top 200 for 2012 in full:

1          EUPHORIA Loreen
2          WINGS Little Mix
3          REUNION M83
4          NEVER CLOSE OUR EYES Adam Lambert
5          FINALE Madeon
6          PULL OF THE EYE Donkeyboy
7          LOVE STUCK Dream Beats featuring The Face
8          SOMETHING NEW Girls Aloud
9          LET IT GO Dragonette
10        COME FOR ME Moonlight Matters featuring Gustaph
11        TIMEBOMB Kylie Minogue
12        FOREVER NOW Ne-Yo
13        HEARTBREAK ON HOLD Alexandra Burke
14        BURN IT DOWN Ricki-Lee
16        SATELLITE The Wanted
17        LIVE IN THIS CITY Dragonette
18        SCREAM Usher
21        ECHO Foxes
22        DRIVE Donkeyboy
23        TROUBLEMAKER Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida
24        ONE THING One Direction
25        CHOKEHOLD Adam Lambert
26        PERFECT WORLD Gossip
27        LATE (EP) Florrie
28        BROKENHEARTED Karmin
29        GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK Demi Lovato
30        LOST IN YOUR LOVE Redlight
31        VACATION Alphabeat
32        ROCKET SHIP Dragonette
33        FEEL THE LOVE Rudimental featuring John Newman
34        SILVER MOON Donkeyboy
35        STUPID MISTAKE Darren Hayes
37        LIE TO ME The Wanted
38        CAST AWAY Strange Talk
39        DON’T YOU WORRY CHILD Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
40        WARRIOR Kimbra featuring Mark Foster & A-Trak
41        CHASING THE SUN The Wanted
42        CRYING OUT YOUR NAME Loreen
43        DANCING IN MY HEAD Eric Turner vs Avicii
44        LET’S GO Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo
45        ALIVE Adrian Lux featuring The Good Natured
46        PEOPLE LIKE US Kelly Clarkson
47        EVERY NOW AND THEN Girls Aloud
48        THE CITY Madeon
49        ALL THIS TIME Joe Jonas
50        OK PAL M83
51        IS THIS LOVE Aiden Grimshaw
52        BEAUTIFUL WORLD Westlife
54        FALLING IN LOVE Strange Talk
55        LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN Bruno Mars
56        GET LOST Gossip
57        THE VELDT Deadmau5 featuring Chris James
58        FIGURE 8 Ellie Goulding
59        A CERTAIN “JE NE SAIS QUOI” Pet Shop Boys
60        DNA Little Mix
61        TONIGHT Saint Etienne
62        CALL ME MAYBE Carly Rae Jepsen
63        GOT TO GET OUT Vanbot
64        PROMISES The Presets
65        LOSING YOU Solange
66        SENSE Amanda Mair
67        OVERFLOW Man Meadow
68        DON’T WAKE ME UP Chris Brown
69        ONLY THE HORSES Scissor Sisters
70        LOSING MYSELF Will Young
71        SUPERMAGIC Parralox
72        GOLD Guy Sebastian
73        VEGAS GIRL Conor Maynard
74        PART OF ME Katy Perry
75        NUMB Usher
76        SOMEWHERE Scissor Sisters
77        ST LUCIA (EP) St Lucia
78        TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT Outasight
79        LET’S GO Matt & Kim
80        YOUR BODY Christina Aguilera
81        LOOKING HOT No Doubt
82        DANCE AGAIN Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
83        DANCING WITH A BROKEN HEART Delta Goodrem
84        ROSIE The Kooks
85        DIAMONDS Rihanna
86        BOYFRIEND Justin Bieber
87        GOTCHA Jessica Mauboy
88        LIGHT UP THE WORLD Steps
89        EVERY DAY Eric Prydz
90        WONDERFUL Angel
91        TROUBLEMAKER Taio Cruz
92        GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN’ Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.
93        NEW LANDS Justice
94        STEVE McQUEEN M83
95        I’VE GOT YOUR MUSIC Saint Etienne
96        I JUST WANT A LOVER Will Young
97        MIND YOUR MANNERS Chiddy Bang featuring Icona Pop
98        RUNAWAYS The Killers
99        BENEATH YOUR BEAUTIFUL Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande
100      SO GOOD B.o.B
101      DARK SIDE Kelly Clarkson
103      LIVE WHILE WE’RE YOUNG One Direction
104      ON’N’ON Justice
105      DON’T FAIL ME NOW Melanie Amaro
106      BLACK WIDOW Booty Luv
107      BURN IT DOWN Linkin Park
108      WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO ME Samantha Jade
109      ASS BACK HOME Gym Class Heroes featuring Neon Hitch
110      ANIMAL Conor Maynard
111      SPECTRUM Zedd featuring Matthew Koma
112      HOT RIGHT NOW DJ Fresh featuring Rita Ora
113      WONDERFUL LIFE Estelle
114      GOOD TIME Owl City featuring Carly Rae Jepsen
115      ALL OF ME Tanlines
116      TAKING OVER ME Lawson
117      NEXT TO ME Emeli Sande
118      YOU BRING ME JOY Amelia Lily
119      SILHOUETTES Avicii
120      MAMA DO THE HUMP Rizzle Kicks
121      GET A JOB Gossip
123      THE FIGHTER Gym Class Heroes featuring Ryan Tedder
124      MISS ATOMIC BOMB The Killers
125      TOO CLOSE Alex Clare
126      CURTAIN CALL Aiden Grimshaw
127      TWO WAY STREET (REMIX) Kimbra
128      BATTLE SCARS Guy Sebastian featuring Lupe Fiasco
129      I FOUND YOU The Wanted
130      I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE Taylor Swift
132      FLOWER Kylie Minogue
133      UNDEFEATED Jason Derulo
134      30 DAYS The Saturdays
135      ON THE RUN Kaiser Chiefs
136      SETTLE DOWN No Doubt
137      BABY COME HOME Scissor Sisters
138      LOVE SEA Alphabeat
139      HOW’D YOU LIKE THAT The Kooks
140      KISS YOU One Direction
141      TROUBLE Leona Lewis featuring Childish Gambino
142      SPECTRUM (SAY MY NAME) (CALVIN HARRIS MIX) Florence + The Machine
143      LOVE RUN DRY Owl Eyes
144      ADORN Miguel
146      WONDER Naughty Boy featuring Emeli Sande
147      WHEN SHE WAS MINE Lawson
148      BREATHE Delilah featuring Liam Bailey
149      LOST IN THE ECHO Linkin Park
150      TRIUMPHANT (GET ’EM) / VINTAGE THROWBACK MIX Mariah Carey featuring Rick Ross & Meek Mill
151      THE FEELING DJ Fresh featuring RaVaughn
152      TURN UP THE RADIO Madonna
153      TALK THAT TALK Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
154      I LOVE IT Icona Pop
155      WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN Rihanna
156      SKYFALL Adele
157      CALL MY NAME Cheryl
158      EVERY NIGHT I SAY A PRAYER Little Boots
159      END OF TIME Beyonce Knowles
160      THIS KISS Carly Rae Jepsen
161      BLACK, WHITE & BLUE Ladyhawke
162      TURN AROUND Conor Maynard featuring Ne-Yo
163      NEED YOUR LOVE The Temper Trap
164      FIREMAN Paulini
165      TRY Pink
166      PAYPHONE Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa
167      CATCH MY BREATH Kelly Clarkson
168      DIVE Usher
169      WIDE AWAKE Katy Perry
170      SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD Delta Goodrem
171      LOVE IS ALL I GOT Feed Me & Crystal Fighters
172      GOOD MORNING TO THE NIGHT Elton vs Pnau
173      ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN Ellie Goulding
174      SWEET NOTHING Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
176      NUMB Vanbot
177      PRINCESS OF CHINA Coldplay featuring Rihanna
178      TREMBLING HANDS The Temper Trap
179      MY KIND OF LOVE Emeli Sande
180      LATCH Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
181      CONQUEST The Sound Of Arrows
182      SOBER Loreen
183      MORE THAN THIS One Direction
184      UNDER THE SUN Cheryl Cole
185      CLOWN Emeli Sande
186      JUST A FOOL Christina Aguilera / Blake Shelton
187      BLACK HEART Stooshe
188      POWERLESS Linkin Park
189      DON’T RUSH Kelly Clarkson / Vince Gill
190      PICK UP THE PIECES Jason Derulo
191      LOVE ME Stooshe featuring Travie McCoy
192      GET ALONG Guy Sebastian
193      LEAVING Pet Shop Boys
194      STAY Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
195      TRESPASSING Adam Lambert
196      SAVE ME Gotye
197      LITTLE THINGS One Direction
198      WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN Bruno Mars
199      ALONE AGAIN Alyssa Reid featuring Jump Smokers
200      WILDEST MOMENTS Jessie Ware

Thanks for reading my list of favourite tracks for 2012. Let me know yours!

Until January 10, when my weekly ARIA recap recommences with the first chart from 1988, I'll be looking back at some of the '80s bands I haven't yet covered on this blog. Everyone from Altered Images to ZZ Top.

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