Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Best Of 2015 - part 5

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


As we prepare to bid farewell to 2015, we've reached my top 20 for the year, which includes a few career bests, a couple of returns to form and something that hasn't happened on my year-end charts for 17 years. Excited? Well, read on anyway...



Number 20 "Paradigm" by CamelPhat featuring A*M*E



The award for this year's most unique artist name goes to CamelPhat, who seem to like to maintain an air of mystery, but - if discogs.com is to be believed - are a British duo comprised of Mike Di Scala and Dave Whelan. Vocals on "Paradigm" are provided by A*M*E, who continues to show excellent taste when choosing songs to feature on, after 2013's "What's Going On?" by Monsieur Adi and Duke Dumont's "Need U (100%)".




Number 19 "Ocean Drive" by Duke Dumont


Speaking of... Duke Dumont encountered something of a reversal of fortune in 2015, with his two singles, "The Giver (Reprise)" (number 162 on this list) and "Ocean Drive", not following his three previous releases into the UK top 2. By contrast, "Ocean Drive" became Duke's first massive hit in Australia, reaching the top 5 locally. The cruisy track features uncredited vocals by Boy Matthews, who co-wrote the song, and was taken from the Blasé Boys Club Part 1 EP, with Duke continuing to eschew the traditional album format for the first in what I assume will be a new series of EPs.





Number 18 "New Love" by Arches featuring Karen Harding


We saw Karen Harding back in Part 3 with her solo single "Say Something", and here she is with the first of two featured appearances in my top 20. On "New Love", she teamed up with Belgian duo Arches, who are signed to Potion, the label run by fellow countryman The Magician (who we saw in my top 100 for 2014).






Number 17 "Cheyenne" by Jason Derulo


I'd kind of given up on Jason Derulo, who featured prominently on my year-end chart in 2010 but whose more recent hits like "Trumpets", "Talk Dirty" and "Wiggle" did nothing for me. But just when I thought he'd traded in his glossy pop/R&B sound to go off in that minimal hip-hop direction for good, he returned to his roots with "Want To Want Me" (number 163 on this list) and the incredibly underrated - and disastrously performing - "Cheyenne", which was his least successful single in the US in some time and of all time in the UK. Quite what went wrong is unclear, since the song about a woman getting under Jason's skin came with an incredibly expensive-looking music video and is as catchy as all get out. Ideas, anyone?





Number 16 "No Words" by Erik Hassle


Next up, a male singer who narrowly missed my top 100 for 2010 with the delayed international release of his debut single, "Hurtful". Swedish artist Erik Hassle received a lot of positive coverage in the blogosphere with "No Words", but the attention failed to translate into chart success.





Number 15 "When It Feels So Good" by Strange Talk


And here's an Australian synthpop band I'm starting to think might never get their chart breakthrough, despite the fact that they released their strongest songs yet in 2015. For the fifth year in a row, Strange Talk feature on my year-end top 100 - although the band has slimmed down from a quartet to a duo now comprised of just singer/keyboardist Stephen Docker and bassist Gerard Sidhu. "When It Feels So Good" was featured on the aptly named E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. - and another track from the EP is still to come...





Number 14 "Sacred" by Erasure


We now move from a relatively recent synthpop band I love to one of my all-time favourites, with Erasure proving in 2015 that they've still got what it takes after 30 years of making music. The third (and easily the best) single from the Richard X-produced album, The Violet Flame, "Sacred" is their highest placing on my year-end chart in 20 years - and pretty much makes up for the glitch in their back catalogue that was the mostly unlistenable Tomorrow's World album.





Number 13 "Something In The Way You Move" by Ellie Goulding


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Ellie Goulding - or rather a love-disinterest relationship would be a better way to describe it, since I don't actively hate any of her songs, but an awful lot of them just don't excite me. But with 22 tracks on the deluxe edition of her Delirium album, there had to be something I liked. In fact, there are probably quite a few tracks I enjoy (although single "On My Mind" isn't one of them) - but I haven't waded through the album enough times to sort out the good from the blah. Promotional single "Something In The Way You Move" did jump out at me, though, and it's actually now my favourite Ellie Goulding song to date.





Number 12 
"Heroes" by Måns Zelmerlöw


In 2012, "Euphoria" by Loreen became the first Eurovision-winning song to make my year-end chart in 25 years - and the first Eurovision-related song to top my year-end chart since 1996. Three years on, and those Swedes have done it again - with "Heroes" by Måns Zelmerlöw taking out the competition and finding a place in my annual countdown. If the Avicci-ish tune wasn't enough on its own to win Eurovision, the former Idol finalist and winner of Sweden's Dancing With The Stars gave a performance that left the rest of the competition in its wake. 





Number 11 "Without You" by Great Good Fine OK


In case you hadn't noticed, I've always got time for another synthpop duo - and here's one from New York consisting of singer Jon Sandler and producer Luke Moellman. The falsetto-tastic single "Without You" was taken from Great Good Fine OK's second EP, 2M2H, and preceded their other 2015 offerings, "Take It Or Leave It" and a cover of the Phil Collins/Philip Bailey duet, "Easy Lover".





Number 10 "Save My Soul" by JoJo


It's been a while since we've heard from JoJo - not intentionally on her part. In the almost-decade since her last major hit, record company disputes have mostly left her unable to release music. That changed when she signed a new deal with Atlantic Records last year and, following covers EP #LoveJo, finally got to put out some original music. That came in the form of the III EP, which, as the name suggests, consisted of three tracks. My favourite of the trio was big ballad "Save My Soul", which sounded like a natural progression from "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little Too Late", both of which just happened to end up at number 20 on their respective year-end charts.





Number 9 "Pressure Off" by Duran Duran featuring Janelle Monáe & Nile Rodgers


So far, we've seen entries from New Order, Chic and Erasure - and our next legacy act to appear is Duran Duran, who released their 14th studio album this year. "Pressure Off" was the lead single from Paper Gods, and as well as featuring guest vocals from Janelle Monáe, it's the third song in my top 100 contributed to by Nile Rodgers, who last worked with Duran Duran almost 30 years ago. The album as a whole is a bit of a collaboration-fest, with everyone from Kiesza to Lindsay Lohan popping up - and seems to have been better received than either All You Need Is Now or Red Carpet Massacre. Meanwhile, "Pressure Off" is Duran Duran's best showing on my charts since 2004, when reunion single "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" wound up at number 3 for the year.





Number 8 "Hurts" by Kove featuring Moko


Like the Blonde song at number 6, this dance track unites two acts that have featured on my year-end chart separately. Last year, Kove's "Way We Are" was my 19th favourite song while singer Moko was at number 28 with solo track "Your Love". Together, they made beautiful drum and bass music on "Hurts", which, also like Blonde's "Feel Good...", was a chart disappointment.





Number 7 "Pray To God" by Calvin Harris featuring Haim


Twenty-five. That's how many singles Scottish dance act Calvin Harris has released since his 2007 debut - 22 as lead artist. And yet, people don't seem to be sick of him. Including me - single number 24, "Pray To God", ranks as my favourite of his so far. Crucial to Calvin's continued success is the fact that you never know who's going to pop up on one of his songs next. I certainly wouldn't have predicted that three-piece girl band Haim would join the long list of his collaborators. Co-written by the band and co-produced by their regular producer, Ariel Rechtshaid (who was also behind songs on this list by Brandon Flowers, Rae Morris and Charli XCX), "Pray To God" really does feel like a musical meeting of the minds, rather than another act phoning in their vocals - and that makes all the difference.





Number 6 "This Ain't Love" by Jessica Mauboy


Here's an artist who's been around almost as long as Calvin Harris and also released what I consider to be her best single this year. Co-written by another former reality show contestant, Fame Academy season one winner David Sneddon, "This Ain't Love" saw Jessica jump on the pop/drum and bass bandwagon. I was a bit sceptical about the change in musical direction at first, but there's very little Jessica's voice doesn't sound good on - and the song stands up alongside others from the genre. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with in 2016, that is if she's not too busy becoming a TV star in upcoming Channel 7 series The Secret Daughter to keep on top of her recording career.





Number 5 "Feel Good (It's Alright)" by Blonde featuring Karen Harding


In 2014, Blonde teamed up with in-demand guest vocalist Melissa Steel on my 13th favourite song for the year. This year, the British duo, who we also saw back in Part 3, went a few spots better with this track, featuring 2015's MVP, Karen Harding. Unfortunately, the pairing didn't pay off, with "Feel Good (It's Alright)" not doing anywhere near as well as either party's previous efforts.





Number 4 "Shut Up And Dance" by Walk The Moon


There was a certain point during the year when I had to stop listening to this song - not because I didn't like it, but because I knew if I heard it too much, "Shut Up And Dance" would become as played out as one of the classic '80s tunes that inspired it. First released towards the end of 2014, the lead single from the American band's second major label album, Talking Is Hard, took its time to build up momentum. But, once it started climbing international charts, it became a fixture - remaining in the ARIA top 50 for seven months and performing similarly in the US and the UK. With no follow-up performing anywhere near as well, there's every chance this could become the band's "Teenage Dirtbag". Time will tell.





Number 3 "Something's 'Bout To Change" by Strange Talk


Had it not been for a certain British synthpop trio, Strange Talk might have topped off their best year yet with my favourite song for 2015 - but that wasn't to be. Instead, the Melbourne duo have to settle for third place with the song that popped up on Soundcloud as the first taste of E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.  in July and then frustratingly didn't appear on iTunes until mid-October. Talk about making a fan (who still likes to own rather than stream music) wait.






Number 2 "Shine" by Years & Years


It hasn't happened on my year-end charts since 1998 and the days of my obsession with Steps, but Years & Years have also done it - finishing the year with my two favourite songs. Runner-up for 2015 is "Shine", which reached number 2 in the UK to become the trio's second big hit of the year. Although four co-writers are listed besides singer Olly Alexander - his two band-mates, co-producer Matt Ralph and hitmaker Greg Kurstin - he was clearly in charge of the lyrics, given the song is about his boyfriend, Neil Milan Amin-Smith from Clean Bandit.





Number 1 "King" by Years & Years


And my favourite track for 2015 is the song that turned Years & Years from just another on-the-rise synthpop band - they were at number 78 on my top 100 for 2014 with "Desire" - into an international success story. A UK number 1 and an Australian top 10 hit, "King" was a much bigger song than anything the trio had released before. With its soaring chorus, driving synth hooks and simple but effective music video, it got everything right. Released early in 2015, it also managed to remain as exciting in December as it was when I first heard it in January - a rare feat for a song that received as much airplay throughout the year as "King" did.




My top 200 for 2015 in full:

1           KING Years & Years
2           SHINE Years & Years
3           SOMETHING’S BOUT TO CHANGE Strange Talk
4           SHUT UP AND DANCE Walk The Moon
5           FEEL GOOD (IT’S ALRIGHT) Blonde featuring Karen Harding
6           THIS AIN’T LOVE Jessica Mauboy
7           PRAY TO GOD Calvin Harris featuring Haim
8           HURTS Kove featuring Moko
9           PRESSURE OFF Duran Duran featuring Janelle Monáe & Nile Rodgers
10         SAVE MY SOUL JoJo
11         WITHOUT YOU Great Good Fine OK
12         HEROES Måns Zelmerlöw
13         SOMETHING IN THE WAY YOU MOVE Ellie Goulding
14         SACRED Erasure
15         WHEN IT FEELS SO GOOD Strange Talk
16         NO WORDS Erik Hassle
17         CHEYENNE Jason Derulo
18         NEW LOVE Arches featuring Karen Harding
19         OCEAN DRIVE Duke Dumont
20         PARADIGM CamelPhat featuring A*M*E
21         BETTER LOVE Foxes
22         DANCING ON GLASS St Lucia
23         LOVE LIKE MINE Miami Horror
24         PAY NO MIND Madeon featuring Passion Pit
25         CAN’T DENY MY LOVE Brandon Flowers
26         KISS ME Olly Murs
27         EVERY DAY’S LIKE CHRISTMAS (STOCK AITKEN WATERMAN REMIX) Kylie Minogue
28         REMEMBER ME Roger Sanchez featuring Stealth
29         PLASTIC New Order
30         CATCH ME IF I FALL LYON
31         LONELY PEOPLE iLL BLU featuring James Morrison
32         BELIEVER DJ Fresh & Adam F
33         BOOKS Swiss Lips
34         DOING IT Charli XCX featuring Rita Ora
35         CAN’T FEEL MY FACE The Weeknd
36         PUSH A-Trak featuring Andrew Wyatt
37         I CAN CHANGE Brandon Flowers
38         HOME Chelsea Lankes
39         THE OTHER BOYS NERVO feat. Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears & Nile Rodgers
40         HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE Calvin Harris & Disciples
41         COMING WITH YOU Ne-Yo
42         PAPERNOTE Tigertown
43         EMBRACE (LE YOUTH MIX) Goldroom featuring George Maple
44         UNDER THE SHADOWS Rae Morris
45         COLORS VÉRITÉ
46         DELIRIOUS Susanne Sundfør
47         THRESHOLD Redlight featuring Melisa Whiskey
48         TRUE LOVE SURVIVOR Freemasons featuring Solah
49         100 DEGREES Kylie Minogue & Dannii Minogue
50         LET THE NIGHT FALL Dragonette
51         CRIMINALS MS MR
52         NOT AFRAID Basic Tape
53         CLEAREST BLUE CHVRCHES
54         IN THE NIGHT The Weeknd
55         ALL CRIED OUT Blonde featuring Alex Newell
56         JEALOUS Nick Jonas
57         AFRAID TO LOVE Philip George
58         I REALLY LIKE YOU Carly Rae Jepsen
59         JUST WHAT I NEEDED Wonderful Humans
60         I’LL BE THERE Chic featuring Nile Rodgers
61         TETHER Eric Prydz vs CHVRCHES
62         COOL FOR THE SUMMER Demi Lovato
63         LONELY TOWN Brandon Flowers
64         FIREBIRD Galantis featuring Dragonette
65         RUN AWAY WITH ME Carly Rae Jepsen
66         HURRICANE LNKAY
67         CUT ME LOOSE LYON
68         SAY SOMETHING Karen Harding
69         ONE NIGHT ONLY Krystal Klear featuring Yasmin
70         TWO MINDS Nero
71         WHITE LIGHT Shura
72         SAVING MY LIFE Gorgon City featuring RØMANS
73         TUTTI FRUTTI New Order featuring Elly Jackson
74         THE TOUCH KOLAJ
75         BLACK & BLUE Guy Sebastian
76         LIKE A RIVER Will Young
77         I CAN’T LOSE Mark Ronson featuring Keyone Starr
78         FAHRENHEIT XY&O
79         DO IT WELL XYConstant featuring Tom Aspaul
80         COMING HOME Sigma & Rita Ora
81         STATE OF WAR paulmac featuring Kira Puru & Goodwill
82         SOMEONE ELSE LANY
83         REDEMPTION Sigma & Diztortion featuring Jacob Banks
84         WINGS Delta Goodrem
85         ONE LAST TIME Ariana Grande
86         TALKING BODY Tove Lo
87         BODY TALK Foxes
88         DON’T LOOK DOWN Martin Garrix featuring Usher
89         THE BEST Lenno featuring Dragonette
90         LEAVE A TRACE CHVRCHES
91         LIKE AN ANIMAL RÜFÜS
92         I THINK I’M FALLIN’ Dominique
93         YOU WERE RIGHT RÜFÜS
94         GET AWAY Paperwhite
95         FIRESTONE Kygo featuring Conrad Sewell
96         YOUR TYPE Carly Rae Jepsen
97         HERE FOR YOU Maraaya
98         LOVE REVOLUTION Will Young
99         REVIVE (SAY SOMETHING) LuvBug featuring Mark Asari
100        CAN’T STOP PLAYING (MAKES ME HIGH) (OLIVER HELDENS REMIX) Dr Kucho! & Gregor Salto featuring Ane Brun
101        OUT OF TOUCH BETABLOCK3R
102        GET READY FOR IT Take That
103        RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW Giorgio Moroder featuring Kylie Minogue
104        TROOPER Vanbot
105        IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU Kylie Minogue + Garibay featuring Sam Sparro
106        WHEN LOVE HURTS JoJo
107        TONIGHT AGAIN Guy Sebastian
108        LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER Kim Wilde
109        GOOD TIMES Ella Eyre
110        HIGHER Sigma featuring Labrinth
111        GROOVE THE PHYSICAL Client Liaison
112        BAD Lost Kings featuring Jessame
113        TOGETHER The Magician
114        DESIRE (GRYFFIN REMIX) Years & Years
115        LEVELS Nick Jonas
116        HEARTBEAT SONG Kelly Clarkson
117        GLITTERBALL Sigma featuring Ella Henderson
118        YEAH YEAH YEAH Jax Jones
119        GO The Chemical Brothers
120        HEADLIGHTS Robin Schulz featuring Ilsey
121        CELLOPHANE (SO CRUEL) Miami Horror featuring Aaron Miller & Gavin Turek
122        KEEPING YOU UP KStewart
123        DO IT Tuxedo
124        STYLE Taylor Swift
125        EASY LOVER Great Good Fine OK & Panama Wedding
126        HARD FOR A MAN Say Lou Lou
127        ELECTRIC LOVE / OLIVER MIX BØRNS
128        SOME KIND OF HEAVEN Hurts
129        INVINCIBLE Kelly Clarkson
130        DON’T WORRY Madcon featuring Ray Dalton
131        TRUE CONFESSIONS Blondfire
132        SWEET HARMONY Monarchy
133        HOME Madeon
134        WILD Troye Sivan
135        NOTHING BUT A HEARTBEAT Say Lou Lou
136        TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT Great Good Fine OK
137        SEARCHLIGHT Hermitude featuring Yeo
138        THEY DON’T KNOW Disciples
139        GHOST TOWN Adam Lambert
140        LAY IT ALL ON ME Rudimental featuring Ed Sheeran
141        SAX Fleur East
142        LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO Ellie Goulding
143        CRUEL (CLIENT LIAISON MIX) The Preatures
144        TOGETHER Ella Eyre
145        PAINTED MS MR
146        KISS ME CLEAN Scavenger Hunt
147        BIG GIRLS CRY Sia
148        NONSENSE Madeon featuring Mark Foster
149        JOY Will Young
150        DRAG ME DOWN One Direction
151        ALONE NO MORE Philip George & Anton Powers
152        HOLIDAY FROM ME paulmac featuring Kira Puru
153        IMAGINATION Gorgon City featuring Katy Menditta
154        BLOODSTREAM Ed Sheeran & Rudimental
155        CRAZY Thief
156        INTO THE NIGHT Nero
157        REALITI Grimes
158        I’M IN IT WITH YOU Loreen
159        NEXT TO ME Otto Knows
160        LIGHTS Hurts
161        BE RIGHT THERE Diplo & Sleepy Tom
162        THE GIVER (REPRISE) Duke Dumont
163        WANT TO WANT ME Jason Derulo
164        CRUEL The Veronicas
165        NEVER LET YOU GO Rudimental featuring Foy Vance
166        RESTLESS New Order
167        DÉJÀ VU Giorgio Moroder featuring Sia
168        INTOXICATED Martin Solveig & GTA
169        EGO Tove Styrke
170        SUGAR Maroon 5
171        U GOT THE POWER Swiss Lips
172        ALL OF THIS AND NOTHING Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
173        WILDEST DREAMS Taylor Swift
174        STOLE THE SHOW Kygo featuring Parson James
175        WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? Duran Duran
176        BRAVE MAN Will Young
177        ALRIGHT WITH ME Wretch 32 featuring Anne-Marie & PRGRSHN
178        NEVER FORGET YOU MNEK & Zara Larsson
179        TALKIN’ CRAZY Syron
180        RUNAWAY (U & I) Galantis
181        BLACK MAGIC Little Mix
182        AIN’T NOBODY KStewart
183        SWEET LOVIN’ Sigala
184        THE THRILL Nero
185        ANOTHER LONELY NIGHT Adam Lambert
186        MOMENTS Tove Lo
187        USED TO LOVE YOU Gwen Stefani
188        COME AND GET IT John Newman
189        CRAZY ON MY MIND All About She
190        NOTHING REALLY MATTERS (AFROJACK REMIX) Mr Probz
191        EYES SHUT Years & Years
192        SEASONS Olly Murs
193        DIFFERENT COLORS Walk The Moon
194        LEAN ON Major Lazer & DJ Snake featuring MØ
195        WAIT Nicole Millar
196        HERE FOR YOU Kygo featuring Ella Henderson
197        YOUNGER (KYGO REMIX) Seinabo Sey
198        THE BUZZ Hermitude featuring Mataya & Young Tapz
199        RUMOUR MILL Rudimental featuring Anne-Marie & Will Heard
200        IT’S YOU The Shapeshifters featuring River


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016 II 2017 II 2018 II 2019

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