Monday, 13 October 2014

The Best Of 2009 - part 2

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

It only took a couple of decades, but dance music (or EDM, as the cool kids started calling it) was suddenly the biggest thing in America in 2009. Sure, there had been a few notable hits, like Usher's 2004 chart-topper "Yeah!" or Ne-Yo's "Closer" from 2008, that'd incorporated dance elements into R&B or hip-hop before, but as the decade drew to a close, everyone was starting to jump on the bandwagon.

Adam Lambert put some glamour into American Idol in 2009

The influence of club music is still as prevalent today, with the '90s continuing to be mined for ideas and hooks. Back in 2009, '90s-inspired tracks were rubbing shoulders with '80s-style tunes on the charts, making it seem like there were no new ideas left in music. Let's see if my next batch of songs bears that out...

Number 75 "Better Off As Two" by Frankmusik
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 74 "Songs Remind Me Of You" by Annie
It took a long time for Annie's second studio album, Don't Stop, to see the light of day, with over a year elapsing between the release of lead single "I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me" and this third single, which was another collaboration between the Norwegian singer and Richard X. A fourth single, "My Love Is Better" (number 117 on this list), was issued around the same time as Don't Stop, and despite some beaten up controversy involving Girls Aloud (who appeared on an early version of the track before their record company put the kibosh on things), a major international hit still eluded Annie.

Number 73 "Miss You Bow Wow" by Girls Aloud
Mentioned below

Number 72 "Whataya Want From Me" by Adam Lambert
In 2009, I was still avidly watching American Idol, by then into its eighth season - and the final consisted of a showdown between clean cut, good ol' American, guitar-strumming singer Kris Allen and theatrical, glammed-up, inventive performer Adam Lambert, who impressed with his take on "Ring Of Fire" and "Mad World", among others. As these things so often go, Kris won the season, but runner-up Adam has emerged as the bigger star - although it took until this fourth post-Idol single for things to really kick into gear. The fact that it was a) a pop/rock ballad and b) co-written by Pink and Max Martin definitely worked in Adam's favour and it rushed into the Australian and US top 10, achieving what "For Your Entertainment" (number 95 on this list) had been unable to do.

Number 71 "Fixin' To Thrill" by Dragonette
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 70 "Million Dollar Bill (Freemasons mix)" by Whitney Houston
If we're being honest, her final studio album, I Look To You, was a bit of a disappointment - but this reswizzled version of second single "Million Dollar Bill", a song co-written and co-produced by Alicia Keys, was one last moment of brilliance for Whitney Houston. Things didn't go so well for Whitney the following year, when her Australian tour was widely panned, and it seemed she'd well and truly lost her touch.

Number 69 "You On A Good Day" by Sugababes
Granted, it was their weakest album up until that point, but Sugababes' sixth release, Catfights And Spotlights, contained more potential singles than just the two that were releases - "Girls" and "No Can Do". My favourite album track was the Motown-esque "You On A Good Day", which I preferred to both singles.

Number 68 "Shooting Stars" by Bag Raiders
Unexpectedly receiving a new lease of life in 2013 thanks to its use by dancer Tommy Franklin in Australia's Got Talent, this was the lead single from the self-titled debut album by the dance duo comprised of Jack Glass and Chris Stracey.

Number 67 "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas
Mentioned below

Number 66 "Remedy" by Little Boots
And here we have two hits by The Black Eyed Peas - one of the biggest exponents of the EDM movement (they even worked with David Guetta) - sandwiching a slice of UK synthpop with strong '80s influences. Otherwise known as Victoria Hesketh, Little Boots hit the UK top 5 with her debut album, Nocturnes, and the top 10 with this second single. The album also featured official singles "New In Town" (number 77 on this list) and "Earthquake" (number 135), as well as promotional track "Stuck On Repeat" (number 86). There's a link to the video in the song title above.

Number 65 "Meet Me Halfway" by The Black Eyed Peas
If any artist could justifiably lay claim to owning 2009 then it was The Black Eyed Peas, who returned with their first new music in four years and dominated charts with the ubiquitous "I Gotta Feeling" (number 67 on this list) - a song which spent 14 weeks at number 1 in the US, seven weeks in Australia and two weeks in the UK. I marginally preferred this follow-up, which samples Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and "Maps" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and also hit the top of the singles chart in Australia and the UK. "Boom Boom Pow" was another international chart-topper, but I despised that. Such massive success could only lead to one thing... the inevitable backlash, although it's hard to feel sorry for a band that released "The Time (Dirty Bit)" in 2010.

Number 64 "New Divide" by Linkin Park
Another new Transformers movie, another tie-in single by Linkin Park - this time for the sequel, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Unlike previous soundtrack single "What I've Done" and the upcoming "Iridescent" (for the third film in the series), "New Divide" is yet to appear on a Linkin Park album, released as a stand-alone single and featuring on the official soundtrack.

Number 63 "You Want History" by Kaiser Chiefs
Given "Good Days Bad Days", the second single from Off With Their Heads, failed to even enter the UK top 100, it's no surprise that this song, despite having a video made for it, wasn't given an official release. And, just like that, Kaiser Chiefs career came to a crashing halt.

Number 62 "Need Me To Stay" by Tommy Trash featuring Mr Wilson
Time for a dance act triple play, and we start with the Australian DJ/producer born Thomas Olsen, who'd been releasing singles for a couple of years on the Australian offshoot of Ministry Of Sound and cracked the ARIA top 20 (oh so briefly) with this breakthrough hit. "Need Me To Stay" is the only song under Tommy's name that I've liked so far, but his remix of The Aston Shuffle's "Sunrise (Won't Get Lost)" made my top 30 for 2012.

Number 61 "Ghosts N Stuff" by Deadmau5 featuring Rob Swire
Featuring vocals by the singer from drum and bass exponents Pendulum, "Ghosts N Stuff" was one of two songs that turned Canadian DJ/producer Joel Zimmerman into a chart force and not just a club act in 2009. The other was "I Remember" featuring Kaskade (number 113 on this list) - and both songs hit the UK top 20 and number 1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

Number 60 "I Wish It Could Last" by Sam La More
Our final pseudonym-ed producer/remixer is the artist otherwise known as Sam Littlemore - the older brother of Pnau's Nick Littlemore. And, like Tommy Trash, Sam was signed to Ministry Of Sound Australia when he released this club track.

Number 59 "Until I Die" by September
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 58 "Heavy Cross" by Gossip
Somewhat surprisingly, this lead single from Gossip's Music For Men album was a top 10 hit in Australia, reaching number 7 and equalling the peak of their biggest British hit, 2006's "Standing In The Way Of Control". Despite the band's music only getting better with each subsequent album, Gossip haven't had another major single in either country, with Germany proving to be their most successful territory.

Number 57 "Magic" by Ladyhawke
Despite plenty of critical acclaim in 2008, it wasn't until 2009 that things took off for Ladyhawke, who found herself with an Australian top 10 single ("My Delirium") and even won a couple of ARIA Awards despite being from New Zealand. "Magic" was the fifth and final single taken from Ladyhawke - and although it looked like Pip Brown had a bright future ahead of her, 2012's follow-up album, Anxiety, was a chart and critical disappointment.

Number 56 "I Need You Now" by Agnes
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 55 "Say It" by Booty Luv
Intended as the first single from Booty Luv's second album, "Say It" gave the pop/dance duo another UK top 20 hit but that was deemed not good enough for label Hed Kendi, who put the project on hold. It would be two years before Booty Luv were heard from again.

Number 54 "Untouchable" by Girls Aloud
All good things must come to an end - or, as it would turn out, a temporary pause - and in 2009, the final single in Girls Aloud's initial period of activity became their first to miss the UK top 10. "Untouchable" also marked the conclusion of an uninterrupted (by dodgy cover versions) run of flawless pop singles by the girl group stretching back to 2007's "Sexy! No No No...". The single appeared (in longer form) on the Out Of Control album, from which several more singles could have been lifted - like "Miss You Bow Wow" (number 73 on this list). Nothing like quitting when you're at the top of your game.

Number 53 "Foreign Land" by Eskimo Joe
After releasing a classic Aussie rock album in the form of Black Fingernails, Red Wine in 2006, Eskimo Joe went a bit experimental (for them) with their 2009 follow-up. It even had a foreign language title, Inshalla, while "Foreign Land" was written about being in New York and finding out fellow Perth local Heath Ledger had died. Both single and album performed well on the ARIA chart, but there was a sharp drop-off with subsequent releases.

Number 52 "Listen To Your Body Tonight" by Black Kids
A couple more tracks from my favourite album for 2008 (Black Kids' Partie Traumatic) made my year-end chart for 2009 - "Listen To Your Body Tonight" and "Love Me Already" (number 92 on this list). Only a couple of new songs on a remix EP released in 2009 have surfaced since that impressive debut, but I'm hopeful the band can recapture whatever it was that went into the making of that album.

Number 51 "S.O.S. (Let The Music Play)" by Jordin Sparks
Mentioned in Part 4

In Part 3: pop gets a little bit trashy, thanks to some questionable lyrics by three new American acts. Plus, my favourite winner of the UK version of The X Factor and the return of some music superstars.

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1 comment:

  1. 'EDM' has always seemed a tautology to me. Electronic dance music... as opposed to what other type of dance music? Though I suppose if you consider ballads and even mid-tempo pop/rock tracks as 'dance' (as the Billboard chart often seemed to), then I suppose 'electronic' might add a new level to it.

    It may just be me getting 'old', but I've long felt like nobody's doing anything 'new' in music anymore - only recycling/revisiting old ideas and making them worse. At least in mainstream chart/radio-friendly music.

    To my ears, a song released now could have come out any time in the last 10-15+ years. Yes, trends have changed, but studio technology hasn't evolved nearly as rapidly as it did in the 80's. It's generally very easy to tell an early 80's track apart from a late 80's one. It's not so easy now.

    One thing I don't like in particular about newer music is that the vocals seem to be way too processed/devoid of anything actually resembling a human and generic. Close your eyes and it could be almost anyone singing.

    Yes, there were heavily processed vocals 'back in the day' - e.g. much of Jason Donovan's S/A/W work, but clearly they hadn't yet 'mastered' it with all the bum notes on 'Nothing Can Divide Us'. The flaws made it something more than just a computer singing.