Monday, 29 December 2014

The Best Of 2014 - part 4

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

I hadn't realised until reaching this part of my top 100 for 2014 just how many music duos there were on the list. We've already seen twosomes like Say Lou Lou, Paperwhite and The Aston Shuffle, and there are more musical pairs in this batch of 20 songs.

Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding paired up again in 2014

I guess it makes sense for there to be so many duos, especially in my genre of choice: synthpop - you only really need someone to sing and someone to press the buttons. And, the advantage of only having two people is that each member gets a bigger share of the royalties than if there were three of more people in the band. Let's face it, that's an important consideration these days.

Number 40 "Powerless" by Rudimental featuring Becky Hill

This seventh and final single from the original version of Rudimental's Home album might not have been so successful, only reaching number 73 in the UK, but it's my second favourite track by the drum and bass group. Meanwhile, as well as being a contestant on the first season of The Voice UK, singer Becky Hill fared better with her vocal contributions to Wilkinson's "Afterglow" and Oliver Heldens' UK number 1, "Gecko (Overdrive)". Naturally, she's working on a solo album, which should feature her single, "Losing" (which placed outside my top 100). 

Number 39 "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 38 "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 37 "Never Say Never" by Basement Jaxx featuring ETML

Our next duo used to be consistent hitmakers, with a string of huge singles from 1999 to 2005 - but it's been a very different story since then, with three albums offering little in the way of chart action. But, tucked away on most recent album Junto was this track, which ended up being the fourth single - and it's the best thing Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have released in a decade. Vocals are provided by Elliot Marshall (aka ETML). 

Number 36 "Undressed" by Kim Cesarion

Released as his debut single in his homeland of Sweden back in 2013, "Undressed" worked its way up to the Australian top 5 this year. Given its old-school pop sound, it's not surprising to discover the song is co-written and co-produced by former Murlyn Music staffer Arnthor Birgisson, who's been involved in such hits as "Gotta Tell You" by Samantha Mumba and The Saturdays' "Higher" over the years.

Number 35 "Everytime" by Broods

Ready for another duo? This time we travel to New Zealand for brother-sister pair Broods, whose Evergreen album reached number 1 at home and the top 5 in Australia, and drew obvious comparisons to Lorde - hardly surprising since they share a producer, Joel Little. Not an official single from Evergreen, "Everytime" is my favourite track from Caleb and Georgia Nott so far.

Number 34 "Out Of My Head (Sub Focus mix)" by John Newman

While he enjoyed another UK chart-topper and ARIA top 10 hit as a featured performer in 2014 - on Calvin Harris' "Blame" - the law of diminishing returns was in effect for John Newman's solo efforts. Despite a reworking by Sub Focus, who we saw twice in Part 3, fourth single "Out Of My Head" tanked at number 91 in the UK - a lower position than the combined total of those achieved by his previous three singles, "Love Me Again", "Cheating" and "Losing Sleep". 

Number 33 "Little White Lies" by Florrie

For a fifth year in a row, Florrie registers an appearance on my year-end top 100 - and there's still no sign of her debut album. Originally appearing early in the year in remixed form on the Sirens EP - her first release to miss the mark as far as I was concerned - "Little White Lies" received full single treatment and restored my faith in her. Wonder what she'll do next?

Number 32 "If I Go" by Ella Eyre

There was good news and bad news for Ella Eyre (real name: Ella McMahon) in 2014. Although her first solo single "If I Go" only reached number 16 in the UK, she did have a hand in a British number 1 for the second year in a row - co-writing "Changing" by Sigma (which we're still to see on this countdown). "If I Go" was co-written and produced by Jarrad Rogers, the formerly Australian-based songsmith who worked on hits for Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian and Ricki-Lee before decamping to London and, more recently, LA.

Number 31 "Setting Sun" by Dirty Vegas

As with Basement Jaxx, it's been a decade since British dance trio Dirty Vegas' last great single, "Walk Into The Sun" - which appeared on my top 100 for 2004. A four-year period during which the band went on a break explains some of that gap, but despite releasing a new album in 2011, it wasn't until this year's "Setting Sun" that I took notice again. Part of the appeal of the single was an excellent remix by Grum, which you can hear by following the link in the song title above.

Number 30 "Collar Up (Monsieur Adi mix)" by Kate Miller

Another song that owes its inclusion on this list to a transformative remix is this track from British singer Kate Miller's debut EP, Neophyte. "Collar Up" chugs along nicely in its original form, but Monsieur Adi brings new energy to the song - although I'm not sure the remix is commercially available. 

Number 29 "Dangerous" by David Guetta featuring Sam Martin

Such has my distaste for David Guetta grown in the past couple of years, I didn't think I'd see the day when he'd reappear on my chart. But in 2014 he released the first single I've liked since 2011's "Without You" - and it was a refreshing change of pace for the ubiquitous French producer. For guest vocalist Sam Martin, "Dangerous" was his second appearance in a row on a Guetta track - having performed on "Lovers On The Sun" as well.

Number 28 "Your Love" by Moko

One of the most '90s-influenced tracks on my top 100, "Your Love" was the lead single from British singer Moko's second EP, Gold. If the name Moko (a stage name for Diane Adu-Gyamfi) sounds familiar, it may be because she appeared on the Chase & Status single "Count On Me", which featured in my top 10 for 2013.

Number 27 "Ready For Your Love" by Gorgon City featuring MNEK

Another duo - and one that released a stream of great singles in 2014. We've already seen "Here For You" back in Part 1, but there was also "Go All Night" featuring Jennifer Hudson (number 104 on this list) and "Unmissable" featuring Zak Abel (number 115). "Ready For Your Love" is Gorgon City's biggest hit so far - and features MNEK, who co-wrote the song as well as "Here For You". Despite MNEK's solo career not taking off in 2014, he did pretty well as a songwriter, also contributing to tracks by Oliver Heldens, Becky Hill, The Saturdays and another British duo, Bondax.

Number 26 "Sunlight" by The Magician featuring Years & Years

Technotronic, 2 Unlimited, Lasgo, Ian van Dahl... Belgium has been responsible for some massive dance acts over the decades. Whether or not The Magician will join those ranks remains to be seen, but breakthrough hit "Sunlight" is a good start. Featured act on the track is Years & Years, who we saw back in Part 2.  

Number 25 "Living Without You" by Monarchy

The final duo in this batch of songs is no stranger to my charts, having placed two songs in my top 20 for 2011, but Monarchy are yet to land a major hit despite songs like "Living Without You" being more than worthy. 

Number 24 "Love Sublime" by Tensnake featuring Nile Rodgers & Fiora

We saw Tensnake - and guest vocalist Fiora - back in Part 1, and here they both are again on the best single from Glow. Helping out on guitar is Nile Rodgers, who seems to be everywhere at the moment, including working on Duran Duran's next album, due in 2015.

Number 23 "Love Never Felt So Good" by Michael Jackson / Justin Timberlake

The last time Sony Music trawled the archives for a posthumous release by Michael Jackson, the best they could come up with was the late superstar's version of the Yellow Magic Orchestra/Eric Clapton single, "Behind The Mask" (which just missed my top 100 for 2011). So it was with some scepticism that I approached 2014 release Xscape. Besides its title being identical to a long-forgotten R&B girl group from the '90s, it didn't hold much promise if it consisted of whatever was left in the vaults. 
Little did I know how good unreleased track "Love Never Felt So Good" would turn out to be. Originally demoed in 1983 during a studio session with Paul Anka, the song was never completed and recorded instead by Johnny Mathis. Fast forward a couple of decades, and the demo was polished up for inclusion on Xscape, with the single version receiving additional input from Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and J-Roc. And just like that, it became Michael's best single since the Dangerous album.

Number 22 "Outside" by Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding

They're not technically a duo, but they might want to consider it since when Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding pair up, monster hits seem to ensue. Last year, it was "I Need Your Love", a song from Calvin's 18 Months album that I didn't really care for but nevertheless made the UK and Australian top 5. In 2014, it was this track, the fourth single from the Scottish DJ/producer's latest album, Motion, which has so far gone top 10 in both countries.

Number 21 "Giving Up" by HAERTS

Their debut EP, Hemiplegia, provided an entry in my top 100 for 2013 and American synthpop band HAERTS repeated the feat this year with this single from their debut self-titled album. Like "All The Days", "Giving Up" (and, indeed, the whole album) was co-produced by St Lucia, who we'll see shortly on this list.

In Part 5: more '90s-inspired dance tracks, plus my favourite song of 2014!

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