Fact. There were more really, really good songs than really, really good albums in 2012. At least, that’s how my general listening experience infers, anyway.
I think that’s a pretty common conclusion from anyone who’s obsessed with making playlists and generally prefer a customised listening experience. (See also: “meticulous” and “anal” pop music gayz).
Here comes are some choons that made the Top 30 cut this year, starting from #30 to #21:
– #30 –
These days, I’m generally in favour of any song I can sing that makes me sound like a voracious top and ‘Scream’ just happens to be one of them. There is no way a power bottom can hear the line “now relax and get on your back” without quivering a little.
We’ve heard Usher swift-foot his way around dance/pop in a number of projects now and this track is just further proof that he generally gets it pretty fucking right. The Max Martin and Shellback-produced floor filler isn’t groundbreaking for anyone who has heard dance pop in the last three years, but the thing about great pop is that, all that shit becomes periphery when you’re faced with an insanely good hook.
A particular highlight in ‘Scream’ for me – and one I always attempt to the best of my abilities without bursting a blood vessel – is that bit where Usher wails in one breath over an escalating dance beat for 15 seconds.
– #29 –
‘Like A Girl in Love’
Fuck yeah, fairground trance beats. Australian teen pop sensation Elen Levon‘s second single ‘Like A Girl in Love’ should’ve raided the tombs of deceased Rihanna fans who thought ‘Where Have You Been’ was all that.
Former Rogue Traders talent James Ash hemmed a severely poppers o’clock beat that somehow still clicks with Elen‘s very mainstream popstarly appeal. Coming off her breakthrough single ‘Naughty’ – which didn’t really grab me with its AutoTuned vocals and mildly effective hook – it’s so pleasing to hear the girl showcase her abilities in ‘Like A Girl in Love’.
I quite enjoy the way Elen breathes vulnerability into the lines like a trained soapie portraying a lovesick school girl: “I’m the life of the party so can you tell me why I’m letting all the boys walk tonight?” she moans.
It’s an effective step in the right direction and with any luck, the coming year will see more equally strong singles from this promising Aussie pop vixen with more delightful music videos shot in exotic Asian countries.
– #28 –
“Palms to the sky! We unite!” must be the new “put your hands up”-style club lyric du jour. I completely trust that our Australian indie songbird-turned-top-dollar-hollering pop songwriter Sia will lead the way with this one.
Even though I rarely have time for Rita Ora‘s tepid debut album Ora, I can’t stop jamming to ‘Radioactive’. Everything from the curiously Sia-vocalled chorus to Greg Kurstin‘s sledgehammering beats is kinda life-giving especially when you’re on the treadmill, panting so fucking loud you sound like a Rottweiler in heat.
There’s also a really slick nod to 80s dance in some sections with the “Hey! Take a look at chu!” call outs mixed in, which is a nice subtle touch I can imagine being highlighted in some kind of extended mix.
– #27 –
I’ve had the pleasure of randomly discovering loads of very interesting new artists this year and upcoming Sydney singer/songwriter John Rowley is probably one that I’ll cherish for a while. It all started with a very witty press release in my inbox and months later, ‘Guilt Trip’ happened and from there I just knew that this young man was onto something really special.
I am very fond of melancholy electro pop ballads, and given that 2012 brought me virtually nothing to emote to (no new Robyn and that Pet Shop Boys album was a deluxe meh), I fastened myself to ‘Guilt Trip’ on a lot of lonely public transport trips in the dead of winter.
“‘Cause you’ll send me to space with the look on your face, you’ll put me on a guilt trip. I’ll wave you goodbye, I’m not ready to fly out of your arm’s reach. I’ll stay close enough so that when you give up, you’ll turn and say you’re sorry.”
Take a minute with this song and you’ll find wonderfully observant lyrics about the circular course of guilt trips in a relationship. Check out an interview I did with John a few months ago.
– #26 –
‘Wanna See U Dance (La La La)’
It must be really hard being Kat DeLuna in a post-J.Lo ‘On The Floor’ world, knowing that some entrepreneurial Latina snatched your sound and made a fuck load of dollars with it. The American Idol judge probably bought a new yatch and waterfront property with the coins she made ‘On The Floor’ and Kat‘s still having to buy shampoo and conditioner from the Reject Shop.
But to prove that Ms DeLuna really do mean business, she saw the fuckery going on with RedOne‘s hand in Love? and raised J.Lo one ‘Wanna See U Dance (La La La)’. The eager-to-please Latin dance anthem is every bit as infectious as RedOne‘s past collaborations with Kat – the track swelters with rapid-fire lyrics that namecheck several styles of dance, an unavoidable accordion line, and a decent wallop of bass.
It’s an absolute crying shame that we’ve come to the end of another year and Kat DeLuna remains so sorely underrated, even though she’s been quite consistent with her quality single choices.
– #25 –
Pop’s alpha male Robbie Williams made it back into the A-game with a single that reassuringly delivers the same cheeky swag that endeared him to the world.
After some continent-shifting success reuniting with Take That, Robbie swerved back into his own lane, this time determined to serve a proper hit album and ‘Candy’ just felt like the perfect ambassador for such a mission. It’s such a pity that Australia didn’t give a toss about this one.
The 38-year old popstar may be dishing lyrics about “a girl who thinks she’s great” with a kind of observant musing you’d expect from a seasoned lover who now knows better, but the spark in lines like “she has a hurricane in the back of her throat” conveys everything.
Sonically, I was instantly charmed by ‘Candy”s nursery rhyme-flavoured melodies and brass brushings that recall Mark Ronson at his finest. Co-writer Gary Barlow and producer Jacknife Lee have well and truly outdone themselves here, proving once again that they could well be the key collaborators of Guy Chambers-proportions in this new era of Robbie’s career.
– #24 –
‘Do It Like That (Fred Falke Remix)’
Skulls cracked and minds were blown when Ricki-Lee premiered this “stone cold fox” of a Fred Falke remix of ‘Do It Like That’, the original version followed eventually to become one of the Aussie diva’s most popular hits. However, this remix will always be the definitive take on ‘Do It Like That’ as far as I’m concerned.
Falke took the sassy and highly kinetic number and gave it such an icy electronica spin, it actually sounds more like something you’d pitch to LaRoux or Robyn. This remix arrived at a particularly exciting juncture for Ricki-Lee fans too, given that it was launched in the UK first before Australia, signalling the promising start of a proper international assault for Ms Coulter.
Fingers crossed that 2013 will see one of Australia’s finest pop artists step up another level and take her music to new markets.
– #23 –
Tegan and Sara
This is the first time Tegan and Sara has made any list of mine, and I hate to be predictable, but of course it was gonna be with ‘Closer’. The Canadian alternative rock twins have undoubtedly stepped out with their most brazenly mainstream single yet.
I completely adore everything about this glossier sound and direction for Tegan and Sara – so much so that I’ve tentatively earmarked their forthcoming album Heartthrob as one of my future faves.
‘Closer’ is such a charming song about crescendoing attraction between two people, you can’t help but feel like you’re being sucked into a tender moment on Dawson’s Creek with this one. The carefree 80s synth rock-fuelled chorus is intended for great summer drives, singing with the windows down.
“I won’t treat you like you’re oh-so-typical!” Thank you Tegan and Sara for not judging me because I typically only love you when you’re sounding this pop.
– #22 –
Carly Rae Jepsen
I’m not trying to be disagreeable or anything, but ‘This Kiss’ is totally better than ‘Call Me Maybe’, despite how iconic the latter is. Look at it this way, ‘This Kiss’ is the ‘Say You’ll Be There’ to ‘Call Me Maybe”s ‘Wannabe’.
The second I heard the joyous opening bars, I knew this song was gonna be essential summer playlist shit. The fluorescent 80s-style production and Carly‘s own sugar-coated vocals just blended so well, but better yet, I really love what ‘This Kiss’ is actually about.
It’s basically a flirtatious song about forbidden love but thankfully done in a playful tone so you can’t help but park your judgement and want her to score with the partnered guy she’s pining for.
“She’s a real sweet girl and you know I got a boy, details we both forgot to mention. And you – are always the way you are, and you always know where I am. We’re taking it too far but I don’t want it to end.” – #Hussyanthem.
– #21 –
Before I met Abelard and discovered his music, I didn’t even know glitterwave was a thing. But it really does show that if you put your heart and soul into making truly special choons – you might as well come up with a fucking fabulous subgenre of your own for it.
Stylistically, ‘Boys’ is one of my favourite songs by the tremendously talented Melbourne-based dreampop artist. It was launched as a double single with Cade. Both guys have done their own versions of ‘Boys’ which are quite different but still very complementary of each other.
From start to end, you’re taken on a lush intergalactic experience, transcending on gravity-defying ambient synths. The layers of looped, filtered vocals end up conveying more of an emotional sound rather than any proper lyrical narrative.
Because I am such a relentless consumer of pop, it’s actually really great to turn to music that is a little abstract from time to time and study beauty of a different style. The introduction of ‘Boys’ has probably opened me up to actively seek out different streams of electronica that I’ve never really desired for before.
And on that note, there should be a few more pleasant surprises and new names in the forthcoming Albums and Songs of 2012 countdown. Yes, child.
The next lot of Feed Limmy’s Top 30 Albums of 2012: #20 – #11 will drop on 11 December. We shall resume counting down the songs (#20 – #11) next Saturday 15 December.