Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Best Of 2014 - part 3

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

We've now had six seasons of the Australian version of The X Factor and 11 seasons of the UK's - which means there's a seemingly endless supply of former contestants to clog up the charts, even taking into account the inevitable drop-off as some performers fall by the wayside.

Ella Henderson: this year's international X Factor success story

In this batch of 20 songs alone, there are three entries by former X Factor finalists (including one winner) - although not from anyone who's competed on the shows in 2013 or 2014. I stopped watching either country's competition a couple of seasons ago and haven't really rated any of the music that's emerged from singers who've appeared in those seasons. But here's hoping Fleur East does something amazing in 2015 to change that.  

Number 60 "Reason" by Erasure

They did it in 2005 and also in 2007 - and in 2014, Erasure once again restored my faith in them after some particularly disappointing releases. One of my favourite acts of all time thanks to their '80s and '90s output, the duo of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have been anything but consistent in recent decades, but "Reason" shows they've still got a few good songs left in them. Partial credit must go to the song's co-writer and co-producer Richard X, who worked on the entire Violet Flame album.

Number 59 "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 58 "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.

Number 57 "Turn Back Time" by Sub Focus

He's been plugging away, releasing music since 2003, but it hasn't been until the last few years that Nick Douwma (aka Sub Focus) has found major success. The sixth single from most recent album Torus, "Turn Back Time" is his biggest hit to date - and one of two appearances in this batch of songs.

Number 56 "Save My Night" by Armin van Buuren

He made two appearances in my top 100 for 2013, and at the end of that year, Dutch DJ/producer Armin van Buuren released a deluxe version of his Intense album (The More Intense Edition), which included the Faithless-ish "Save My Night" as one of two new tracks. 

Number 55 "Dare You" by Hardwell featuring Matthew Koma

Here's another - considerably younger - Dutch DJ/producer (real name: Robbert van de Corput), who's yet to release his debut album, but has been putting out singles since 2007 with middling success in the Netherlands. "Dare You", which features Matthew Koma (who was also the voice of Ti√ęsto's "Wasted" in 2014), was Hardwell's first single to cross over and chart in the UK.

Number 54 "10 Million People" by Example

We've seen him once on this top 100 already (in Part 1) with "One More Day (Stay With Me)" - and here's the follow-up, which not only didn't follow its predecessor into the UK top 5, but didn't hit the chart there at all. Pity.

Number 53 "Wrapped Up" by Olly Murs featuring Travie McCoy

His fourth album might be called Never Been Better, but as it turns out, Olly Murs has seen better days. This album is his only one not to have its lead single go to number 1 in the UK, with "Wrapped Up" having to settle for a chart peak there of number 3. In truth, it's not as good a song as "Troublemaker" or "Heart Skips A Beat", but in a pretty dud year for pure pop, I'll take what I can get.

Number 52 "Up!" by Samantha Jade

From one X Factor alumnus to another - but unlike Olly, Samantha Jade doesn't even seem to be permitted to release albums. "Up!" is one of a string of singles to emerge since her obligatory post-victory rush-job album in 2012 - and while there's a lot to be said for regularly releasing individual tracks instead bothering with an album full of filler, it does seem odd for an artist of her profile to subscribe to the Justice Crew method of recording (and even they finally got around to putting an album out this year).

Number 51 "Get Away" by CHVRCHES

After countless (OK, six) singles have been released and re-released from CHVRCHES' debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, the Scottish trio got around to unveiling something new towards the end of 2014. "Get Away" was part of a project revamping the soundtrack to the 2011 Ryan Gosling film Drive, with a bunch of acts like CHVRCHES, the similarly capitalised SBTRKT and Foals contributing new tracks that have been added to a revised version of the movie.

Number 50 "All Of Time" by Avec Sans

More British synthpop now from the duo of Alice Fox and Jack St James, who just missed my top 100 for 2013 with the single "Shiver". It's a different story in 2014, with "All Of Time" marking them out as an electronic act to watch in 2015.

Number 49 "We Sink" by CHVRCHES

And it's back to CHVRCHES for this next entry - the fifth and, in my opinion, best single from The Bones Of What You Believe. Unlike some albums that spawn multiple singles since they continue to perform well, in the case of CHVRCHES, it seemed to be a case of issuing and reissuing singles until one of them was successful - but despite all the effort, the best UK chart achievement came for the second release of "The Mother We Share", which peaked at number 38.

Number 48 "Imperium" by Madeon

Back in 2012, when he was all of 18 years old, French house prodigy Hugo Leclercq (aka Madeon) registered two entries on my year-end top 100 - and now he's back, almost doing the same thing again as a 20-year-old. "Imperium" is the lead single from Madeon's forthcoming debut album, Adventure, and it was followed by "You're On", which just fell short at number 101 on this list.

Number 47 "Instant Crush" by Say Lou Lou

When sisters Elektra and Miranda Kilbey-Jansson made my top 100 for 2013 with "Beloved", I didn't realise that the first part of their surname came from Steve Kilbey of The Church, who just happens to be their dad. "Instant Crush" was their version of the Daft Punk single, originally performed by the French duo with Julian Casablancas. We'll see the girls again shortly...

Number 46 "Kiss Me Once" by Kylie Minogue

Kylie's third and final entry on this list is my favourite song from Kiss Me Once, but the title track, which was co-written by the album's co-executive producer Sia Furler, was never even in contention for single status. I'd like to think that if it had been a single, it would have been a big hit and saved the album, but I'm not sure what it's going to take for Kylie to have another chart-topping hit, especially when she has to compete with the flood of new pop artists like...

Number 45 "Ghost" by Ella Henderson

Former UK X Factor finalist (she came sixth in 2012) Ella Henderson raced to number 1 in the UK and number 3 in Australia with this debut single, which she co-wrote with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. Like Ricki-Lee on Australian Idol and Jennifer Hudson on American Idol, Ella's early elimination from the competition came as a massive shock at the time, but, as these things often turn out, she's now in a much better position than that season's eventual winner, James Arthur.

Number 44 "Everything We Touch" by Say Lou Lou

Here's Say Lou Lou again, this time with an official single - "Instant Crush" was a free promotional release - and it's another dreamy slice of synthpop that suggests their upcoming debut album, Lucid Dreaming, might be pretty good.

Number 43 "Nobody To Love" by Sigma

It started out life as a bootleg remix of Kanye West's "Bound 2" before the British drum and bass duo comprised of Cameron Edwards and Joe Lenzie created their own version of the track, with singer Daniel Pearce recording new vocals to replace those of Charlie Wilson from the original. The result: the first of two UK chart-toppers for Sigma in 2014. We'll see the other one later in the countdown. 

Number 42 "Hideaway" by Kiesza

It might be her debut single, but this isn't the first appearance by Canadian vocalist Kiesza (real name: Kiesa Ellestad) on one of my year-end charts - she provided vocals for Donkeyboy's "Triggerfinger", which placed in my top 100 for 2013. Featuring one of the year's best videos - mid-song stumble and all - "Hideaway" is one of several songs on this list to wear its '90s influences on its sleeve.

Number 41 "Close" by Sub Focus

We saw the sixth single from Torus earlier, and here's the seventh - although, like Calvin Harris' 18 Months, a good number of the singles actually came out quite a while before the album. On Torus, vocals on "Close" were performed by co-writer MNEK - but by the time the single rolled around, they were substituted for new vocals by Daniel Pearce, who as well as singing on the Sigma track, used to be in One True Voice, the boy band formed by Popstars: The Rivals (the reality show that also spawned Girls Aloud).

In Part 4: more solo singles from former featured artists, guest appearances from established acts and every other permutation of collaborations possible.

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