Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Best Of 2015 - part 4

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

We've seen plenty of new artists on my top 100 for 2015 so far, but if there's a pattern to the songs appearing in this part, it's appearances by regulars on my year-end charts - including a collaboration between an artist and producers who used to dominate my charts. As much as I like discovering new artists, sometimes it's nice for things to be familiar, too.  

Number 40 "How Deep Is Your Love" by Calvin Harris & Disciples

These days, when every man, his dog and the lady down the road who pops by occasionally to water the plants receives a credit on a single, it's always remarkable when someone quite involved in a song doesn't get any billing. That was the case with "How Deep Is Your Love", a collaboration between Calvin Harris and British production trio Disciples (two of whom are signed to Calvin's publishing company). While both of those acts are named, there's no featuring credit given to the actual singer (and co-writer), Norwegian songwriter Ina Wroldsen. "How Deep Is Your Love" was Calvin's first project after he'd finished lifting singles from his Motion album (one of which is still to come on this list), while Disciples just missed my top 100 with their own single, "They Don't Know" (number 138 on this list).

Number 39 "The Other Boys" by NERVO featuring Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears & Nile Rodgers

In a year when she didn't even release a proper studio album, Kylie Minogue sure has a lot of entries on this top 100. Here's another of the one-off singles she appeared on this year - "The Other Boys" by Australian dance duo NERVO. Sharing vocal duties with Kylie is BFF and frequent collaborator Jake Shears, while Nile Rodgers pops up on guitar, but was obviously too busy also appearing on a million other songs to share in the music video's warehouse party fun.

Number 38 "Home" by Chelsea Lankes

With its gentle vocal and layers of synths, you'd be forgiven for mistaking this single for just another Scandipop track. But Chelsea Lankes actually hails from Texas, USA, which probably explains why one of the other tracks she released in 2015 was a reinterpretation of a Mötley Crüe song.

Number 37 "I Can Change" by Brandon Flowers

In which Brandon Flowers wears his '80s influences on his sleeve. The fourth single from The Desired Effect, "I Can Change" not only contains a rather prominent use of the synth hook from Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy", but a small vocal contribution from Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tenant (yes, that's him in the video below). The track was originally co-written with a more modern act: Swedish DJ/production duo Axwell Ʌ Ingrosso.

Number 36 "Push" by A-Trak featuring Andrew Wyatt

Next up, one half of Duck Sauce and friend of Kanye West, A-Trak (real name: Alain Macklovitch). "Push" saw the Canadian DJ/producer team up with Miike Snow singer Andrew Wyatt. 

Number 35 "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd

We saw "In The Night" back in Part 3, and it's no coincidence "Can't Feel My Face" is the only other song by The Weeknd to feature on my top 100 - both were co-written by Swedish pop maestro Max Martin. I wasn't as taken with The Weeknd's other big international hits, "Earned It" and "The Hills"

Number 34 "Doing It" by Charli XCX featuring Rita Ora

Like Kylie, Rita Ora has already appeared on this list in a featured artist capacity - and here she is again, this time with fellow Brit singer Charli XCX. Originally a solo track, "Doing It" was revised to include vocal input from Rita - and the European release of Charli's Sucker album was delayed as a result. The first song by Charli (real name: Charlotte Aitchison) I've liked, it's a lot less shouty than the likes of "Boom Clap" and "Famous".

Number 33 "Books" by Swiss Lips

Thanks to this blog, which I've been maintaining for the past three-and-a-bit years, regular readers have come to know what sort of music I like - and this track is here thanks to a recommendation from one such visitor. An anthemic slice of British synthpop, it was pretty much a given I was going to like it, and I quickly downloaded the band's self-titled debut album. Whether or not I would otherwise have heard of Swiss Lips is unclear, although maybe not - I had no idea the band had split up in 
August just as they released their second album in under a year, so it shows how much attention I've been paying.

Number 32 "Believer" by DJ Fresh & Adam F

At the start of the decade, songs like "Hot Right Now", "Gold Dust" and, my personal favourite, "Louder", had made DJ Fresh one of the biggest names in British dance music. And although the hits (in the UK) kept coming for the DJ/producer born Daniel Stein, I haven't really liked anything he's released since then. That changed in 2015, thanks to this collaboration with club legend Adam F, with whom DJ Fresh owns drum and bass label Breakbeat Kaos. Naturally, "Believer" defied my expectations to become his worst performing single since before he broke through on the British charts.

Number 31 "Lonely People" by iLL BLU featuring James Morrison

Here's another song I was convinced would be massive in Britain - but then the UK charts aren't what they used to be. An unlikely collaboration between husky-voiced balladeer James Morrison and the dance duo comprised of one-time rapper Darius "Dary" Ellington and producer James "Jreel" Grant, "Lonely People" deserved better than to not even reach the UK top 100. Nice music video, too.

Number 30 "Catch Me If I Fall" by LYON

The second appearance from LYON on the top 100, and like "Cut Me Loose", "Catch Me If I Fall" still isn't available on the Australian iTunes store. Someone might want to do something about that at some point.

Number 29 "Plastic" by New Order

Next up, another act with their second track on this list - although New Order are no strangers to my year-end countdowns. "Plastic" was rushed out as a promotional single after the reaction to Music Complete's official lead single, "Restless" (number 166 on this list), was underwhelming to say the least. With its "I Feel Love"-style bassline and driving house beat, this is New Order at their most club-friendly - and as good as they've ever sounded.

Number 28 "Remember Me" by Roger Sanchez featuring Stealth

It's been a decade since legendary DJ/producer Roger Sanchez released "Turn On The Music" - the last song of his that I own - and even longer since he topped the UK chart with "Another Chance", so it was nice to hear something new from him this year. Piano house anthem "Remember Me" features drum and bass DJ/producer Ali Pearce (aka Stealth, which just happens to be the name of Roger's own record label), who it turns out is also something of a vocalist.

Number 27 "Every Day's Like Christmas (Stock Aitken Waterman remix)" by Kylie Minogue

If you'd asked me at the start of the year (or decade or millennium) whether we'd ever see Kylie Minogue work with Stock Aitken Waterman again, I would almost certainly have said no. Surely, the closest she was ever going to get was letting Pete Hammond remix "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)" in 2011. But then a Christmas miracle happened, with Kylie's former producers completely reworking the Chris Martin and Stargate-penned "Every Day's Like Christmas" from her festive album. From the moment the beat kicks in, this is unmistakably a SAW production, although it also somehow manages not to sound like a relic from the 1980s. And while I'm not often a fan of seasonal releases, the song works as a pop tune in its own right. Besides, given my track record with Stock Aitken Waterman and Kylie, did anyone ever expect this not to rate highly with me? 

Number 26 "Kiss Me" by Olly Murs

With "Seasons" (number 192 on this list) becoming his worst performing single in the UK in four years, Olly Murs did what any artist with an album that'd only been out for a few months would do - he started looking towards the deluxe edition. New track "Kiss Me" was one of seven songs added to the Never Been Better tracklisting and, in the UK at least, restored his singles chart fortunes.

Number 25 "Can't Deny My Love" by Brandon Flowers

Making his third and final appearance on this list is Brandon Flowers with the lead single from his solo album, The Desired Effect. And despite a big budget music video co-starring Evan Rachel Wood, "Can't Deny My Love" set the pace for singles from the albums by doing about as well on the charts as any single by The Killers since "Human".

Number 24 "Pay No Mind" by Madeon featuring Passion Pit

It'd been a long time coming, but French producer Madeon finally released his debut album, Adventure, in 2015, and included singles dating all the way back to 2012 on the deluxe edition. "Pay No Mind" was one of three new tracks from the album released this year as singles - and was followed by "Home" (number 133 on this list) and "Nonsense" (number 148). 

Number 23 "Love Like Mine" by Miami Horror featuring Cleopold

They've been regulars on my year-end charts since 2009 - and in 2015 released their best single since that initial year's "Don't Be On With Her" from the Bravado EP. "Love Like Mine" was featured alongside this year's "Cellophane (So Cruel)" (number 121 on this list) on the All Possible Futures album, which mopped up all the band's singles from the past few years.

Number 22 "Dancing On Glass" by St Lucia

Taking me completely by surprise in the final months of 2015 was this brand new single from an artist who's making his fourth consecutive appearance on my year-end charts. The first taste of upcoming album Matter, "Dancing On Glass" is as good as anything St Lucia has released before - and is actually only his second official single (the other being "Elevate").

Number 21 "Better Love" by Foxes

Here's another act who made her debut on my year-end chart for 2012 and has featured every year since - either with her solo efforts or various collaborations. And also like St Lucia, Foxes has a new album due in early 2016. The forthcoming All I Need will feature the incredibly under-rated "Better Love" as well as her other should've-been-bigger track from 2015, "Body Talk", which we saw back in Part 1

In Part 5: my top 20 for 2015, including something that hasn't happened on my chart for 17 years. Plus, two '80s bands make their best showings in years, while a song from a new band sounds like it comes straight out of that era.

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