You’re busy people, let’s be brief – what have we learned this year about music?
- Pop ain’t (remotely) dead.
- The injection of grime into the UK pop monster has been a very good thing indeed.
- Sorry Rihanna (‘What’s My Name’ would have made no. 43 though)
So here is the Daddy or Chips Top 50. I use the UK Top 40 as the base but I will occasionally foray into an album track, download or some other random thing if it’s moved and grooved me enough. I listen to these and see how it stands alone (as distinct from needing an album), was it ambitiously novel (Toro Y Moi) or did it do something previously done very very well (Rick Astley), and finally, do I want it in my list of good good things?
I don’t much care about ‘coolness’ (Look, this ranges from Toro Y Moi to Rick Astley – both acts produced fine music in 2010).
As ever my musical mantra is ‘all music is shit and none of it is…’
Thanks to all you peeps who have blogs, profiles in last.fm, share stuff via Facebook, Twitter or occasionally slip me a zip with stuff that goes on to enrich my ears. You are tastemakers far beyond me!
11-50 now, Top Ten later!
11. Marz – John Grant
Ex-Czars singer pulls life back together with the help of Midlake. Huge, personal, emotive album ensues.
12. Give Me Tonight – Jay Dabhi vs Shannon
NYC DJ (and gentleman) puts an urgent, grooving spin on Shannon’s 1984 already-pretty-urgent-actually minor classic.
13. O.N.E. – Yeasayer
The first of our NYC hipsters. Delightfully, they didn’t forget to add groove and melody to the clover-clogsiness.
14. Rocket – Goldfrapp
This soundtracked our visit to New Zealand for some reason. If people are going to reference Van Halen’s Jump, then by all means do it as well as this did.
15. England – The National
One of the few non-singles here, but Christ, isn’t it worth it? Brooding, anthemic, poignant.These chaps passed me by as a hetero act – my prejudice has been, happily, misplaced.
16. Here Lies Love – David Byrne & Fatboy Slim feat. Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine
What? A double concept album about Imelda Marcos? Without mentioning shoes? Fine. (‘Here Lies Love’ is apparently what Ms Marcos wants inscribed on her tombstone.) This is one of those collaborations that really brings out the best of everyone involved.
17. Let The Sun Shine – Labrinth
Lahndon grime producer makes gorgeous soulful proper pop song. This reminds me of stuff like Force MDs’ Tender Love for some reason. It’s just a textbook great song.
18. Lost In The World – Kanye West feat. Bon Iver
Getting Bon Iver in is something of a surprise even for Kanye, the most catholic of musical samplers/collaborators. His lack of boundaries is rewarded with this hugely emotive, uplifting thing that rivals anything he’s done before. Triumphant.
19. Blessa – Toro Y Moi
Thank you Toro Y Moi for continuing my love of acts that make computers sound like they can cry. (And thank you for being a total gent and doing the autograph thing when I ambushed you while a bit drunk in Shoreditch…)
20. Happiness – Alexis Jordan
I gotta hurry hurry hurry now, quick quick quick! Someone listens to a Deadmau5 album track, spots potential amazingness and no doubt went through some tedious wrangling with writers and ‘artists’ and ‘people’ and record companies and lawyers and blah blah blah. Result: progressive commercial pop – a genre we wholeheartedly approve of.
21. Together – Pet Shop Boys
3/4 time rave suits them. A very fine track to go along with their ‘will this do?’ Ultimate compilation. The video is utterly charming to boot.
22. Lights Out – Rick Astley
Astley has always been a powerhouse vocalist and this hefty chunk of grown up melodic pop suits him completely. If Take That had recorded this, it would have been no. 1.
23. Bang Bang Bang – Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. feat. Q-Tip & MNDR
I always delight in a track that sounds good despite the obvious effort that went into it. Q-Tip is consistently good; MNDR seems like a great find; and Ronson is being his magpie best. Thrilling.
24. Telephone – Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé
Oh, just give in and say it’s brilliant.
25. That Day – Villagers
You know that fatigue that accompanies the critically-acclaimed album? You MUST love it because it’s AMAZING and its IRISH and OMG *melts*? Villagers’ Mercury-nominated album is such a thing, and it’s grand and all, but this track is the fucking business.
26. Take Me With U – Joe Chester
Skinny Irishman reinterprets Prince. The understated delivery is less dispassionate and more, well, insistent.
27. Find Your Love – Drake
Forgive me, Drake, but I couldn’t pick you out of a line up of the slew of US rap/pop/whatever types that keep poking their hopeful heads into the Uk charts every now and gain. That said, Find My Love is the sound of a summer that’s so pleasant that the din from those cars’ oversized sound systems becomes rather lovely really.
28. In My System – Tinchy Strider
The best bit of housey housey tracks is the breakdown, the bit where the music seems to stop while it builds anticipation before the huge bit when the track kicks in again and everyone goes apeshit. Well, this usually happens once in a 7 minute track. Tinchy Stryder has decided to squeeze about 17 such breakdowns into a 3.5 min song.
29. Spanish Sahara – Foals
Big brooding epic indie ballad alert! (Oh and the lead singer is both tiny and swarthy – noice).
30. Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart – Alicia Keys
Perhaps overly-earnest songstress in perfect slowburn pop moment.
31. Slow – Rumer
The antithesis of overemoting. Girl can SING.
32. Green Light – Roll Deep
The London collective manage to cram about 20 hooks into one track resulting in uberjoy for the listener. Tania Foster on vocals is an absolute find.
33. After Dark – The Count & Sinden feat. The Mystery Jets
Greater (by far) than the sum of it’s parts.
34. Ambitions – Joe McElderry
This is here because I can’t include Donkeyboy’s original version. Which was ace. Joe’s failure to set the charts alight is a little sad because it means that the X Factor machine won’t be open to taking (relative) risks anymore. (But perhaps they also should have noticed that there was already a Mika and his second album didn’t do much either…)
35. Take That – Wiley & Chew Fu
The brains behind Roll Deep, London’s Wiley started the year with a track that just went BAM POW ZAP! in your face. (PS: This is good.)
36. Playing With Fire – Paula Selling & Ovi
They represented Romania at Eurovision and lost to that annoying German girl. Who cares, this piano-thumping thing is aces.
37. Alors On Danse – Stromae
Existentialist pragmatism over a chunky fat groove. Works for me.
38. All Delighted People- Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan returns with a rougher, more vulnerable voice. He didn’t scrimp on the fucking huge production though. Epic.
39. White Sky – Vampire Weekend
Again if the NYC hipsters decide to grooove, I’ll not complain.
40. Bruise On The Sky – Nellie McKay
She’s transitioned from precocious (and a little annoying) to more of a craftsperson. It COMPLETELY suits her.
41. One Eye Closed – Cocknbullkid
TUNE! VIDEO! TUNE!
42. The Flood – Katie Melua
A commercial mis-step, but this William Orbit production is such a noble failure.
43. Fireflies – Owl City
Right now it’s like someone dripping molten white chocolate into my eyes, but I (and everyone else) did love it back in January and I suspect we will love it again in time.
44. More Than A Lover – The Coral
The Coral passed me by until the threat to BBC6Music resulted in my actually listening to it rather than protesting for its survival. And they kept playing the arse out of this. With good reason.
45. Wonderful Life – Hurts
The album was a bit thin, but this track earns them their keep.
46. Katy On A Mission – Katy B
A slow-burner. I dismissed it as young London urban stuff, but it’s a fine example of craft, imagination and melody. And it was a rather big hit.
47. I Like (Jost & Gruber Mix) – Keri Hilson
Another artist that doesn’t seem to be able to find a niche. It took a European remix to find the proper voice beneath.
48. Pass Out – Tinie Tempah
For all that’s magnificently different about UK rap. The apparent choice of the student protesters too.
49. Soldier Of Love – Sade
Right now it’s like someone dripping Ambien into my eyes, but I (etc etc).
50. Physical – Glee Cast feat. Olivia Newton John
Glee is one long arched eyebrow repeatedly stabbing mainstream television and the charts. Indulge me.