Monday, 15 September 2014

The Best Of 2008 - part 2

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

Itch-e & Scratch-e, Josh Abrahams, Southend, Madison Avenue... there have been some great dance tracks by Australian artists over the years, but it was unusual for there to be several at once.

The Presets' Apocalypso was one of several big
Australian dance records in 2008

I don't know why 2008 was any different, but it seemed to be a banner year for local club tunes. So much so that this next batch of my favourite songs from 2008 contains more local dance music than some years do as a whole.

Number 75 "Hearts On Fire" by Cut Copy
Mentioned below

Number 74 "Seventeen Forever" by Metro Station
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 73 "Road To Recovery" by Midnight Juggernauts
Case in point: this single from the debut album by Melbourne electronic trio Midnight Juggernauts. "Road To Recover" (and album Dystopia) were actually released in the second half of 2007, but it wasn't until 2008, when they were nominated for a couple of ARIA Awards, that I got into them.

Number 72 "Black And Gold" by Sam Sparro
More dance music now - and like Gabriella Cilmi (who we saw in Part 1), Aussie-born singer Sam Sparro (real name: Samuel Falson) was signed to Island Records UK, and like MGMT's "Kids" (also in Part 1), "Black And Gold" had existed in a previous incarnation before being given the major label push in 2008. The buzz surrounding Sam in the UK led to Australia also sending "Black And Gold" (written about his religious beliefs) into the top 5 locally, and he was suddenly the hottest artist in town (when he returned home for promotional visits, that is). Unfortunately for Sam, he's been unable to live up to that promising start.

Number 71 "Human" by The Killers
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 70 "Far Away" by Cut Copy
Mentioned below

Number 69 "Miracle" by Deepest Blue
They'd done pretty well with the singles from their first album, but this track didn't even receive an official release for the duo comprised of singer Joel Edwards and DJ/producer Matt Schwartz, who parted ways not long after. Post-Deepest Blue, Joel went on to sing with Planet Funk, while Matt continued songwriting and production, including on Kylie Minogue's "Timebomb" in 2012.

Number 68 "All I See" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned below

Number 67 "Guilty" by Kosheen
Another dance act not having a great time of it in 2008 was trip-hop trio Kosheen, with this second cut from the Damage album receiving a download-only release... in Europe. Another album wouldn't eventuate until 2012 - and I've just realised I've never listened to it. Must get round to that one day.

Number 66 "Break The Ice" by Britney Spears
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 65 "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)" by Ashlee Simpson
If it was good enough for, well, just about everyone else to reference '80s synthpop in 2008, then it suited Ashlee Simpson just fine, too. Abandoning her pop/rock sound of albums past, "Outta My Head" saw her receive Timbaland's magic touch and embrace more of an electronic sound. The flirtation was brief, however. When "Outta My Head" flopped in the US, it was back to her usual Avril-lite style for follow-up "Little Miss Obsessive".

Number 64 "Pocketful Of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield
Later to play a hilarious part in the Emma Stone film Easy A, "Pocketful Of Sunshine" was another hit for Natasha in the US, where her record company issued an album of the same name in 2008. Her second US album, Pocketful Of Sunshine featured quite a different tracklisting to her second UK release, N.B. Although her chart fortunes in the UK were on the wane, "Pocketful Of Sunshine" matched the number 5 position of "Unwritten" in the US - so it's little wonder she decided to concentrate on that market instead from then on.

Number 63 "When You Touch Me" by Freemasons featuring Katherine Ellis
Rapidly turning into the K-klass or JX of the '00s, production team Freemasons continued to release one killer single each year, with "When You Touch Me" following "Love On My Mind" (2005), "Watchin'" (2006) and "Rain Down Love" (2007). On vocals this time round was Katherine Ellis (aka Arrola, who'd performed on a string of Ruff Driverz singles in the late '90s). It's not the last time we'll see Freemasons on this countdown, as they continued to be the go-to remixers for pop/dance makeovers.

Number 62 "I Decided (Freemasons mix)" by Solange
Pop/dance makeovers like this one... Here's the Brighton-based dance act doing what they'd previously done for Faith Evans ("Again") and Beyonce Knowles ("Deja Vu" and "Green Light"): re-energising a so-so R&B track (in this case, one co-written by Pharrell Williams and produced by The Neptunes) and turning it into a dance floor stormer. The artist in question was Beyonce's little sister, Solange, who despite never coming close to anything like her superstar sibling's level of success has emerged as a critically beloved artist in her own right. 

Number 61 "Forever" by Chris Brown
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 60 "Dance Dance" by Booty Luv
A fifth and final single (and one that didn't even get released in the UK) from Cherise and Nadia - and their second non-remake in a row. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for the duo, but just as had happened with their former band, Big Brovaz, things ran aground when it came time for a second album, as we'll see in my 2009 countdown.

Number 59 "This Boy's In Love" by The Presets
Some more Australian dance music now - and the first of two acts signed to Modular Records who hit number 1 on the ARIA albums chart with their second album. First up, it's The Presets, the duo of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, whose hard-edged synthpop had made some waves thanks to 2005's "Are You The One?". Things went into overdrive with the Apocalypso album and its string of singles starting with "My People". My favourite was this second single, which swapped angry chanting for a softer, more lush sound.

Number 58 "My Delirium" by Ladyhawke
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 57 "Lights & Music" by Cut Copy
The Presets' label mates Cut Copy flew completely under the radar with their first album, Bright Like Neon Love, but also hit number 1 with 2008's In Ghost Colours. Singles-wise, the group weren't so commercially successful, with none of "Lights & Music", "Far Away" (number 70 on this list) and "Hearts On Fire" (number 75) managing to enter the ARIA top 50.

Number 56 "So What" by Pink
With I'm Not Dead re-establishing her as a major player in the pop arena, Pink scored the biggest hit of her career with this lead single from the Funhouse album - and dealt with her estrangement from husband Carey Hart (who featured in the music video) at the same time. Big, brash and ballsy, "So What" became Pink's first solo number 1 in the US and her first chart-topper in Australia since 2001's "Get The Party Started". The rest of the singles - and there were plenty - from Funhouse didn't fare quite as well, but it shifted more copies than any album since her second release, Missundaztood, also from 2001.

Number 55 "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 54 "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson
She already had an Academy Award to her name, but American Idol alumnus Jennifer Hudson had still to make her mark as a recording artist away from the Dreamgirls soundtrack - so who better to turn to than Ne-Yo and Stargate for her debut single proper? Despite the pop/R&B dream team behind her, "Spotlight" wasn't a massive hit (number 11 in the UK, number 24 in the US), but it's still her best performing single.

Number 53 "My Love Is Pink" by Sugababes
It was only released as a digital single, but "My Love Is Pink" was better than either of the two official singles from Change that followed - the title track (which made my top 200 for 2007) and "Denial" (number 118 on this list). It was also better than either of the two singles lifted from the trio's sixth album, Catfights And Spotlights - "Girls" (number 85) and "No Can Do" (number 114). Things were not looking so good for the once consistently brilliant girl group.

Number 52 "Insomnia" by Craig David
Nine years after he burst onto the scene as vocalist of Artful Dodger's 2-step anthem, "Rewind", Craig David had racked up enough singles to justify a greatest hits album. And although he'd slid into MOR ballad territory for the most part in recent years, he returned to the dance floor with this new track, produced by Timbaland protege Jim Beanz (who, bizarrely, was also behind 2008's Eurovision Song Contest victor, "Believe" by Russian entrant Dima Bilan). 

Number 51 "Do It Again" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 3

In Part 3: those Freemasons were at it again, remixing another artist with a Destiny's Child connection. Meanwhile, one of the most successful singers of the past six years made her debut and one of Australian Idol's best graduates showed all other ex-reality show contestants how it was done.

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  1. I forgot about Deepest Blue's 'Miracle'. I liked their first few singles and read about their planned comeback, but I don't think I actually heard the track (or at least, I don't remember it if I did).

    1. Miracle was a bit different from the likes of Deepest Blue and Give It Away - had more of a kick to it.