Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Best Of 2014 - part 2

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

If the 2014 ARIA Awards are to be believed, the best Australian music of the past 12 months came from Chet Faker, Sheppard and Sia. Of those, only Ms Furler manages an appearance in my top 200 ("Chandelier" is at number 134), while many of my favourite homegrown artists have yet to receive such acclaim. 

Ariana Grande: more than just a ponytail and a pretty voice

We saw a surprising (for me) number of Australian performers in Part 1 of my countdown - and there are more in this next batch of 20 songs from acts that wholly or partly call Australia home, even if they don't all actually still live here. And we kick things off with one of them...

Number 80 "Tear It Down" by The Aston Shuffle

They put in an appearance in my top 100 for 2013 thanks to a remix of one of their songs by Tommy Trash, but in 2014, Canberra duo The Aston Shuffle make it on their own with this single from their second album, Photographs

Number 79 "Desire" by Years & Years

Here's another dance act with a local connection - one of the three members is Australian. Years & Years were in the running for the BRITs Critics' Choice Award, but lost out to James Bay, who seems like a much better fit for the prize previously won by Adele, Sam Smith and Emeli Sandé. A trio, Years & Years is fronted by actor Olly Alexander, who appeared in the 2012 film version of Great Expectations (alongside Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter). 

Number 78 "Outines" by Mike Mago & Dragonette

They had a year off from my top 100 in 2013, but you can't keep Dragonette away for long. Another collaboration - not with Martin Solveig, for once - "Outlines" saw the Canadian synthpop band team up with Dutch DJ/producer Mike Mago.

Number 77 "Lionhearted" by Porter Robinson featuring Urban Cone

What Madeon is to France, Zedd is to Russia and Avicii is to Sweden, Porter Robinson is to America - that nation's dance music wunderkind, whose success to date is all the more remarkable given his young age: 22 years old. "Lionhearted", which features Swedish band Urban Cone, comes from Porter's debut album, Worlds, although he likely earnt most of his cash in 2014 thanks to his co-writing credit on Zedd's hit "Clarity". 

Number 76 "Girl That You Love" by Panic! At The Disco

It's been quite some time since Panic! At The Disco was the hottest band on the planet, and it's a shame they're now somewhat overlooked, since this synth-heavy track from fourth album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die is among their best work. It's also much better than any of the singles actually released from the album, which might explain why they all flopped.

Number 75 "Young Hearts" by Strange Talk

Here's the new song from Strange Talk that I mentioned in Part 1, a fresh track included on the US release of their debut album, Cast Away. One song is nice, but I'm more than ready for album number two, thanks.

Number 74 "Crazy Something Normal" by Donkeyboy

The singles - and a few albums tracks - from their last album, Silver Moon, dominated my year-end top 100s from 2011 to 2013, but something very strange started happening in Donkeyboy world in 2014. After last year's "Triggerfinger" got me excited for a potential third album by the Norwegian synthpop group, "Crazy Something Normal" was another standalone single and was followed by the less impressive "Hero", both of which were included on a premature best of album, Hits. Is this the end for Donkeyboy?

Number 73 "Seeya" by Deadmau5

Featuring vocals by Colleen D'Agostino from rock band The Material, "Seeya" was the second single from deadmau5's seventh album - a dance behemoth with the intriguing name while(1<2). Despite the double album boasting 25 tracks, this was the only song I got into.

Number 72 "Break Free" by Ariana Grande featuring Zedd

2014 was the year former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande went from being yet another kids' TV actress who did a bit of singing to the new Mariah - diva attitude and all, if reports are to be believed. "Problem" was the song that pushed her over the edge, but it was this synthier track - produced by Max Martin and featured performer Zedd - that found my favour.

Number 71 "Lucky Ones" by Monsieur Adi featuring Negin

This song doesn't seem to have been released as a single, despite popping up on Soundcloud (and the tempo-adjusted video below). French DJ/producer Monsieur Adi has been behind a number of great remixes in the past couple of years (including one to come on this list), not to mention his "Back To Life" revamp, "What's Going On", which featured in my top 100 for 2013. Guest vocalist on "Lucky Ones" is Swedish-born, American-based singer/songwriter Negin Djafari.

Number 70 "All Of You" by Betty Who

Like Negin, Australian Betty Who (who we also saw in Part 1) is now based in New York, but thankfully she hasn't tried to hide her distinctive twang on songs like this single from debut album Take Me When You Go

Number 69 "I'm Not Your Hero" by Tegan & Sara

This should probably have popped up in my top 100 for 2012, since it was released in October of that year as a promotional single for the then-upcoming Tegan & Sara album Heartthrob. But, it didn't - and finds its place instead in my list for 2014, official singles from the album having dried up in 2013.

Number 68 "Empire" by Shakira

It had been some years since Shakira enjoyed a sizable hit and five years since her most recent English-language album, so the Colombian superstar did what any singer on the comeback trail would do to launch her 2014 self-titled album: she enlisted Rihanna for a duet. That song, "Can't Remember To Forget You", was a top 20 hit in Australia, the US and the UK, but it was dramatic follow-up "Empire" - which always felt to me like Shakira's version of Kate Bush - that stood out for me.

Number 67 "Stupid Little Things" by Anastacia

Given her chart competitors in 2000 were the teenaged Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, it's no wonder the then-31-year-old Anastacia Newkirk was pressured into lying about her age. It's been a long time since anyone cared about the big-voiced singer, let alone how old she is - a situation that unfortunately continued in 2014 despite this amazing comeback single from sixth album Resurrection. Written and produced with the team behind "I'm Outta Love" and "One Day In Your Life", it should have been massive - and probably would have been a decade earlier. 

Number 66 "Comeback" by Ella Eyre

From a pop comeback to a pop song called "Comeback" - and it's another track you'd have thought might've been bigger, especially given British singer Ella Eyre's high profile performance on Rudimental's "Waiting All Night" - not to mention the fact that an explicit version exists (after all, lyrics featuring "motherf***er" should surely guarantee a hit record). Instead, "Comeback" stalled at number 12 in the UK and the release of her debut album has been pushed back. 

Number 65 "Uptight Downtown" by La Roux

La Roux moved on to its second album in 2014, although it lost a member in the process. As the video grab below suggests, it wasn't singer Elly Jackson who left the duo but producer Ben Langmaid - although he co-wrote about half of the aptly named Trouble In Paradise, including this lead single. 

Number 64 "My Head Is A Jungle (MK mix)" by Wankelmut & Emma Louise

A remix of a remix - this track was originally recorded as "Jungle" by Australian singer Emma Louise in 2011. Then, in 2013, German DJ/producer Wankelmut (real name: Jacob Dilßner) got his hands on the song and released it as "My Head Is A Jungle". But in 2014, this remix by MK (aka Marc Kinchen) - who seems to have re-emerged in recent years, after making a name for himself in the late '90s - turned the song into an even bigger hit, reaching the UK top 5.

Number 63 "Sexy Love" by Kylie Minogue

We saw "Into The Blue" back in Part 1, and despite having much better options to follow that up with on Kiss Me Once, Kylie went with the Pharrell Williams-written and produced "I Was Gonna Cancel" as the album's second single. Well, didn't that turn out to be a disaster - "peaking" at number 312 in Australia. After that debacle (and her worst video of all time), the Kiss Me Once campaign hit the skids. "Sexy Love" was theoretically the album's third single - Kylie even performed it on The Voice Australia - but it was a radio-only release and the album petered out after that. Thank goodness for the world tour to bring in the cash.

Number 62 "Forever (Giorgio Moroder remix)" by Haim

Originally released as Haim's debut single in 2012, "Forever" received a new lease of life this year thanks to a remix from back in-vogue producer Giorgio Moroder. Given the sisters' '70s and '80s pop sensibilities, it was a pretty good match.

Number 61 "When The Beat Drops Out" by Marlon Roudette

When producer Cameron McVey is your dad and Neneh Cherry is your step-mother, a career in music seems more or less predestined - and in his early 20s, Marlon Roudette did the family proud by landing a worldwide hit (2005's "Big City Life") as one half of Mattafix. A solo artist since 2011, Marlon launched his second album, Electric Soul, with this single, which saw him return to the ARIA top 20 for a second time.

In Part 3: just when I'd written them off, one of my favourite bands of all time released their best song in years. Plus, some X Factor alumni and one of the year's best music videos.

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1 comment:

  1. > "I Was Gonna Cancel" as the album's second single. Well, didn't that turn
    > out to be a disaster - "peaking" at number 312 in Australia.

    Adding to the local 'success' of 'I Was Gonna Cancel' is that it wasn't listed amongst the voting options for this year's Rage 50 - where they list all of the new music videos they received during the previous 12 months (and sometimes some re-acquired old videos make it onto the list, which is why I check it, but not this year). I assume therefore that they never received a copy to air. Damage control?