Monday, 10 November 2014

The Best Of 2010 - part 2

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

2010 got off to a bad start when an earthquake devastated the island nation of Haiti, but just as it had when disaster struck any time in the previous 25 years, the music industry leapt into action. In this case, a group of American musicians banded together to record a new version of a song that had topped charts around the world in 1985: "We Are The World".

He acts, he raps, he sings... Drake was a triple threat to watch in 2010

The new version of "We Are The World" featured an appearance by an artist who was arguably 2010's most talked about singer: Justin Bieber. The teen Canadian performer caused mayhem when he visited Australia in April and a planned outdoor concert was shut down by police. Who could have predicted that within five years he'd had gone completely off the rails, with his personal life and arrests overshadowing his music? OK, that was maybe a given. Justin doesn't appear in my top 100 for 2010 - but here are some more acts that do...

Number 75 "I Wanna Life" by Goldfrapp
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 74 "Hands" by The Ting Tings
I remember reviewing this single at the time and describing it as a mix between Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and "Two Of Hearts" by Stacey Q, which I still think sums it up pretty well. Less spiky and shouty than most singles by The Ting Tings, "Hands" didn't have the so-irritating-its-catchy appeal of "That's Not My Name" and "Shut Up And Let Me Go" - and while that was a good thing in my book, it probably explains why the song and accompanying album Sounds From Nowheresville failed to make much impact.

Number 73 "Not In Love" by Crystal Castles featuring Robert Smith
Here's another electronic band with an indie bent - and Crystal Castles received a boost in 2010 thanks to this single, the final release from their second album, which featured The Cure's frontman on guest vocals.

Number 72 "Freefallin'" by Zoe Badwi
One-hit wonder time - "Freefallin'" is to date the one and only top 50 appearance by Australian pop/dance singer Zoe Badwi, who peaked at number 9 with this uplifting little tune. 

Number 71 "Happiness" by Alexis Jordan
Speaking of uplifting, the positively titled "Happiness" was the debut single for former America's Got Talent contestant Alexis Jordan, who was snapped up by Jay-Z and Stargate after developing a YouTube following in the wake of her appearance on the reality series. Sampling "Brazil (2nd Edit)" by Deadmau5, the radio version of the track was a massive Australian and UK hit, while I also liked the Wideboys single mix.

Number 70 "Caesar" I Blame Coco featuring Robyn
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 69 "Heatwave" by Alphabeat
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 68 "Find Your Love" by Drake
The former Degrassi: The Next Generation star had been establishing himself as a major player on the hip-hop scene, but it wasn't until he traded rapping for singing in 2010 on this US top 5 hit that he caught my ear - something he'd do every so often over the next few years. Co-written and co-produced by Kanye West, "Find Your Love" didn't make the cut for Kanye's own Heartbreaks & 808s album.

Number 67 "Love Love Love" by Agnes
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 66 "All You Need Is Now" by Duran Duran
Thirty years into their career, and Duran Duran continued to try new things - such as working with producer Mark Ronson on their 13th studio album and putting it out on their own record label. Initially released digitally, All You Need Is Now ended up being issued physically in 2011. They weren't the only ones doing things for the first time - after missing their previous Australian tour several years earlier, I finally got to catch the band live when they visited again in 2011.

Number 65 "Give It Up" by Maniac
This duo comprised of American Shawn Harris (from The Matches) and Australian Jake Grigg (from Something With Numbers) released a couple of tracks in 2010 - including this lead single from intended album Mania - but then things all went very quiet. Wonder what ended up happening to Maniac?

Number 64 "Baby, I'm Getting Better" by Gyroscope
From a band I'd followed from the very beginning to one that had to release four albums before anything registered with me - Perth's Gyroscope with the second single from their fourth album, Cohesion. As usual, "Baby, I'm Getting Better" was a Triple J favourite, but it was also pop enough for my taste.

Number 63 "Acapella" by Kelis
The latest artist to jump on the EDM bandwagon in 2010 was Kelis, who teamed up with David Guetta (among others) for this foray into electronic music. A tribute to her baby son, Knight (with ex-husband Nas), "Acapella" was a top 5 hit in the UK and a US dance chart number 1, but the musical departure was seemingly too great for Australian fans. 

Number 62 "Commander" by Kelly Rowland featuring David Guetta
Another artist turning to the production skills of David Guetta in 2010 was Kelly Rowland - although in her case, it was a music reunion, since the two had recently collaborated on 2009's "When Love Takes Over". This time, Kelly was the lead artist, and her decision to release a song as club-oriented as "Commander" came at a time when she was finding her sound all over again after leaving Sony Music and dumping Matthew Knowles as manager. Over the next few years, we'd see Kelly try on a few different musical styles - that is, when she wasn't busy with her reality TV show judging commitments. Meanwhile, David continued to churn out hits for himself in 2010, kicking off this countdown with "Memories" (number 88 on this list).

Number 61 "Stand Up" by Cheryl Cole
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 60 "Love Hangover" by Jason Derulo
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 59 "Overcome" by Alexandra Burke
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 58 "Teenage Dream" by Glee Cast
By late 2010, the novelty of Glee cover versions was beginning to wear off, with 19 songs from the hit TV show having hit the ARIA top 50 before this take on the Katy Perry single was released. But, Glee's spin on "Teenage Dream" got people excited about the series' remakes again - especially in the US, where it became the biggest hit to emerge from the show since "Don't Stop Believin'". Part of the reason for the fuss was the fact that the song was performed by buzz-worthy new character Blaine (Darren Criss) and the Dalton Academy Warblers (in reality, Tufts University's The Beelzebubs), whose show choir approach to the song outranked Katy's original version (number 101 on this list) for me.

Number 57 "Hearts Don't Lie" by Gabriella Cilmi
Also carving out new musical terrain was Australia's Gabriella Cilmi, who'd dominated the 2008 ARIA Awards on the strength of her one big hit, the Amy Winehouse-lite "Sweet About Me". Like much of her debut album, that chart-topping single had been produced by Xenomania - who were also behind this song, the second single from follow-up album Ten. But unlike, "Sweet About Me", "Hearts Don't Lie" actually sounded like something that could've been released by the girl group to whom Xenomania usually gave their best songs: Girls Aloud (who were on hiatus in 2010). Both "Hearts Don't Lie" and previous single "On A Mission" (number 82 on this list), which has always reminded me of Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out", saw the (at the time) 18-year-old performer shift into a pop /dance direction - but unfortunately for her, the record-downloading public didn't seem too interested in her new sound.

Number 56 "Misery" by Maroon 5
The first single from Maroon 5's third studio album, Hands All Over, "Misery" was a bit of a chart disappointment for the band, peaking outside the US top 10 and only managing to climb as high as number 39 in Australia. The song received more attention for its music video, which was another Maroon 5 clip to feature one of vocalist Adam Levine's model girlfriends - in this case, Russian beauty Anne Vyalitsyna. Subsequent singles from Hands All Over (including "Never Gonna Leave This Bed", which featured even more of Adam and Anne in its clip) performed even worse and things weren't looking good for the band at all - but Adam Levine's stint on reality series The Voice and a 2011 collaboration with Christina Aguilera would change all that.

Number 55 "Annie You Save Me" by Grafitti6
This collaboration between singer/songwriter Jamie Scott and songwriter/producer Tommy "TommyD" Danvers may not have yielded much chart fruit, but both members have had more success working for other artists - especially Jamie, who can sit back and count his royalty cheques as a co-writer on a number of One Direction singles and album tracks.

Number 54 "O.N.E." by Yeasayer
They're known as more of an experimental band, but with this catchy single from the Odd Blood album, Brooklyn's Yeasayer could well have done an MGMT and gone mainstream. That didn't come to pass and they remain coolly credible.

Number 53 "Raise Your Glass" by Pink
There was nothing experimental about this single - the first new track from Pink's greatest hits album, on which she re-teamed with songwriters/producers Max Martin and Shellback (who'd been making quite the name for himself in the previous couple of years). A classic Pink power pop/rock anthem, "Raise Your Glass" did push a few boundaries with the music video's same sex marriage scene and was a fittingly celebratory conclusion to a decade in which Pink had dominated charts (especially in Australia). 

Number 52 "Don't Stop" by Annie
To finish off this batch of songs - a female synthpop album track double play. First, it's the title track of Annie's 2009 second album, which wasn't one of the four singles released but was a favourite of mine. Also not lifted as a single - "Loco" (number 80 on this list).

Number 51 "Symmetry" by Little Boots featuring Phil Oakey
Next, a track from Hands, the debut album by Little Boots which, despite boasting the presence of The Human League's Phil Oakey, didn't warrant a single release. For me, the aptly named "Symmetry" was the perfect blend of new and old synthpop.

In Part 3: the day no one thought would come to pass - the reunion of one of the world's top boy bands, plus two of the biggest stars of the past few years (one British female singer, one Hawaiian male artist) make their debuts.

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