Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Best Of 2015 - part 2

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

If there was a recurring theme in Part 1 of my countdown of my favourite 100 songs for 2015, then it was singles by European DJ/producers who are barely old enough to drink (well, in Australia anyway) let alone play in clubs and at festivals. In this batch of songs, there's more presence from the old guard - in other words, artists who were born earlier than 1990. In fact, one band in this section was formed - albeit under a different name - the year after I was born (which was 1975, in case you wondered).

Number 80 "State Of War" by Paul Mac featuring Kira Puru & Goodwill

It's only fitting that we start Part 2 with a true music survivor - and it's another performer who came in at number 1 on one of my previous year-end lists. Back in 2001, paulmac (as his name was then styled) released the excellent "Just The Thing" from his debut solo album, 3000 Feet High, but he first appeared on one of my year-end charts in 1994 as part of Itch-e & Scratch-e. After a decade's gap between albums, Paul finally followed up 2005's Panic Room with the under-rated and under-the-radar release, Holiday From Me. Lead single "State Of War" features Australian singer Kira Puru and local DJ Goodwill.

Number 79 "Do It Well" by XYConstant featuring Tom Aspaul

I didn't say we'd seen the last teenager on this list - and here's our next one: Alfie Coleman from Cornwall in England, who is referred to as an 18-year-old on a couple of sites but I think must be 19 or even 20 by now. However old he is, it's young. Another example of tropical house, "Do It Well" features the vocals of British singer/songwriter Tom Aspaul.


Number 78 "Fahrenheit" by XY&O

From Cornwall we move to Cardiff in Wales and synthpop trio XY&O, who released their debut single, "Low Tide", earlier in 2015. The more recent track "Fahrenheit" is the song that caught my attention.


Number 77 "Black & Blue" by Guy Sebastian

It's been 12 years since Guy Sebastian took out the first season of Australian Idol - which pretty much makes him a music veteran at this point. As well as returning to the judging panel of The X Factor, Guy added a new achievement to his CV in 2015, becoming the first artist to represent Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest. Although his Eurovision song, "Tonight Again" (number 107 on this list), just missed my top 100, brand new single "Black & Blue" did the trick. Easily the most convincing he's been when adopting an EDM-influenced sound, "Black & Blue" maintained Guy's recent ARIA chart trend of peaking between numbers 11 and 20 - his fifth release in a row to do so.


Number 76 "Run Away With Me" by Carly Rae Jepsen

"Call Me Maybe" was always going to cast a long shadow - it's the kind of song that causes some artists to buckle under the pressure of trying to match it. And, although it's unlikely Canada's Carly Rae Jepsen will ever manage a hit that massive again, she at least equalled that pop gem in terms of quality in 2015. Her third album, EMOTION, is packed with radio-friendly synthpop tunes like second single "Run Away With Me", "Your Type" (number 110 on this list) and one more song we'll see in a little bit...


Number 75 "Firebird" by Galantis featuring Dragonette

In 2015, their big worldwide singles were "Runaway (U & I)" (number 179 on this list) and "Peanut Butter Jelly", but for me, it was album track "Firebird" that converted me to Galantis. The Dragonette-featuring track was taken from Pharmacy, the debut album by the duo comprised of Linus Eklöw (aka Style Of Eye) and Christian Karlsson, who's been responsible for a number of songs (notably "Toxic", "AM To PM" and "Young And In Love") to make my year-end charts as part of production duo Bloodshy & Avant and is also a member of Miike Snow.


Number 74 "Tutti Frutti" by New Order featuring Elly Jackson

Here's the band I was referring to earlier that formed in 1976 - as Joy Division, obviously. Like Paul Mac, New Order hadn't released a new studio album since 2005, but Music Complete was worth the wait. Having lost Peter Hook, quite acrimoniously, the band regained original New Order member Gillian Gilbert as well as a new bass player, Tom Chapman, who'd previously played with singer Bernard Sumner in side-project Bad Lieutenant. Like "Jetstream" from Waiting For The Siren's Call, "Tutti Frutti" features guest female vocals from a current pop/dance act - in this case La Roux's Elly Jackson.


Number 73 "I Can't Lose" by Mark Ronson featuring Keyone Starr

Surely the biggest song of the past 12 months, "Uptown Funk" may have ended up being the only hit from Mark Ronson's Uptown Special album, but it's actually this follow-up which I prefer. Sharing the '80s funk sound of its predecessor, "I Can't Lose" features the vocals of hitherto unknown Mississippi preacher's daughter Keyone Starr.


Number 72 "Like A River" by Will Young

In Part 1, we saw "Love Revolution", the lead single from 85% Proof, which was quite a different sound for Will Young - but promo single "Like A River" was more what we've come to expect. A lush but haunting ballad that wouldn't have sounded out of place on previous album Echoes, it provided further proof - if any was needed after all this time - that Will is one of the best talents unearthed by a reality show.


Number 71 "The Touch" by KOLAJ

Describing themselves as a "euphorock band" (a sub-genre that's new to me), American duo KOLAJ consists of singer Teesa and Mighty Mike. In 2015, the pair released this bouncy tune as their debut single - and it's a song that reminds me of about a million things (everything from "Whenever Wherever" to Kygo) while still sounding fresh.


Number 70 "White Light" by Shura

We've reached that point of the post - yep, it's time for the obligatory synthpop track by an up-and-coming one-named female singer. Born Aleksandra Denton, Shura received a lot of attention in 2015 with her releases, "2Shy" and "White Light" - but it was the latter which found my favour.


Number 69 "I Really Like You" by Carly Rae Jepsen

Here she is again - CRJ with the lead single from EMOTION, which did its best to be just as much of an earworm as "Call Me Maybe", while turning the fun factor up to 11 and staying just the right side of cutesy. Helping "I Really Like You" from becoming too much of a cheese-fest was the decision to cast Tom Hanks in the music video - his unlikely presence a much better and less obvious move than having Carly skip around performing the entire bubblegum tune herself. 


Number 68 "Saving My Life" by Gorgon City featuring RØMANS

Tracks from Gorgon City's debut album have featured on my previous two year-end top 100s, but after milking
 Sirens for six singles, the British duo released something new in 2015. Unfortunately "Saving My Life", which featured fellow countryman Sam Roman (aka RØMANS) on vocals, followed Sirens' sixth single, "Imagination" (number 153 on this list), by flopping on the UK chart.


Number 67 "Lonely Town" by Brandon Flowers

Another of our music old guard, The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers released his second solo album, The Desired Effect, in 2015 - and I enjoyed its singles much more than those lifted from his debut effort, 2010's FlamingoThe album's third single, "Lonely Town", is the first of three to appear in my top 100 - and was accompanied by a retro-themed video starring Australian actress Penelope Mitchell. 


Number 66 "Two Minds" by Nero

I must admit I'd completely forgotten about Nero in the four years since their breakthrough with tracks like "Promises" and "Guilt". And so, I was pleasantly surprised with their second album, Between II Worlds, and especially the single "Two Minds", which featured a gentler dance sound than I would've expected given their previous music.

Number 65 "Cool For The Summer" by Demi Lovato

I've always liked the idea of Demi Lovato, even if I haven't actually loved any of her music beyond 2012's pop anthem "Give Your Heart A Break". But she seems like a smart, talented performer, with a voice and attitude that leaves her fellow former Disney starlets wanting. Finally, with this year's "Cool For The Summer", the 23-year-old came up with the goods a second time - with a little help from co-writer and co-producer Max Martin.

Number 64 "One Night Only" by Krystal Klear featuring Yasmin

It appears Irish DJ/producer Krystal Klear and singer Yasmin Shahmir have been releasing tracks for about the same time (since the start of the '10s). But, while Yasmin has popped up on my year-end charts before - with her solo tracks in 2011 and on Gorgon City's Real in 2013 - '80s funk-influenced "One Night Only" is the first time Krystal Klear (real name: Dec Lennon) has hit my radar. 

Number 63 "Say Something" by Karen Harding

In Part 1, we saw the track "Revive (Say Something)", which was co-written by MNEK. Next up, it's the similarly titled "Say Something", which was once again co-written as well as being produced by MNEK for British singer Karen Harding. A one-time reality TV hopeful who appeared on Britain's search for a Eurovision entrant in 2010 (and was eliminated after butchering the best song of all time) and The X Factor in 2013, Karen finally landed a record deal and released this UK top 10 hit as her debut single. She also popped up on a couple of tracks by other artists in 2015 - and we'll see both of those before we reach number 1.

Number 62 "Hurricane" by LNKAY

Just when you thought there wouldn't be any Scandi synthpop in this batch of songs, here's Swedish singer LNKAY (real name: Ellen Stokstad) to save the day. Given its title, debut single "Hurricane" is suitably dramatic - and catchy as hell.

Number 61 "Afraid To Love" by Philip George

He had a couple of big hits this year with tracks derived from well-known songs - the Stevie Wonder-sampling "Wish You Were Mine" and "Alone No More" (number 145 on this list), which was based on Another Level's similarly titled debut. But, it was the 22-year-old British DJ/producer's other 2015 song that makes my top 100. Featuring a sample of - what else? - Loleatta Holloway's "Love Sensation" and a big vocal house hook, "Afraid To Love" sounds straight out of the '90s, but despite all that to recommend it, the track seems to have been skipped over for official release.

In Part 3: the sibling collaboration that was decades in the making, plus another performer leaves his siblings - and most of his clothes - behind. Also, the return of a disco powerhouse and the least likely member of the Glee cast to become a chart star.

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