Feed Limmy 32 Songs of 2017

Have I even listened to enough new music in 2017 to be doing this list? According to Spotify, my two most streamed artists this year were sister to The People’s Minogue, Kylie, and British pop evergreens Atomic Kitten. Neither have had any new music to show for this year – except maybe if you want to count the NERVO collab Kylie appeared on.

Aside from the Kittens, S Club Juniors, Mis-Teeq, Samantha Mumba, Billie Piper and iio all turned up in my most streamed tracks of the year. It would seem at the year I turned 30, I had suddenly become nostalgic for the Smash Hits era of my youth. There I was, properly getting into acts I had skipped over the first time around like S Club Juniors/S Club 8 and Honeyz, losing hours and weeks on YouTube blackholes of Top of The Pops and CD:UK performances.

In the brief moments where I was actually present in 2017 – it felt like this was the year pop got its groove back. It has been mostly rhythm-led, thanks to the dominance of Caribbean, tropical house, Latin pop and afrobeat influences, which suit me just fine. This year is also the first year in ages where there aren’t any non-singles in the round up, so RIP the album, I guess.

Here are my 32 songs of 2017 (it’s not a round number because, full disclosure, there are two singles here that were actually released late last year).

#32 – NCT 127 ‘Limitless’

Okay so this is NCT 127, a nine-member strong boy band subgroup of NCT. This is one of three different subgroups they have going including NCT U and NCT Dream, which by the way can feature the same members in changing configurations. It’s all very confusing to the casual observer of K-Pop like yours truly. However, what is clear to me is that ‘Limitless’ is a treat. It’s bristling with hard, trap beats and laser-sharp synths – and yet in the heart of it – a skyscraping, classic boyband chorus that sounds like something you’d hear from a late 90s Backstreet Boys writing session.

#31 – Lotto Boyzz ‘No Don’

Birmingham afrobbean (as they would describe it) sensation Lotto Boyzz crept up on me with this one. It wasn’t until several casual listens that ‘No Don’ sunk its hooks in. It’s the interlocking of different melodic and rhythmic nods from Carribbean and African music, with a completely on-trend production that won me over. There is a sense that sound is gonna be what dominates ‘urban music’ in 2018.

#30 – Lauren Faith ‘Rush’

Emerging British singer-songwriter Lauren Faith glows on this rose-tinted slice of pop-R&B. A breezy, innocent and effortlessly charming soundtrack for a blossoming romance, ‘Rush’ – co-written by Faith with Zena Kitt (Karen Harding) and Luke Fritton (Kylie) – sounds like the youngest cousin of your favourite Jessie Ware song. You know the one. She’s now coming of age a little, doesn’t want her mum buying her clothes anymore, and is learning to contour from watching Courtney Act tutorials on YouTube.

#29 – Jessica Mauboy ‘Fallin”

The darling fleur of Australian pop, Jessica Mauboy, has managed to carve out a deep-rooted career in the music industry since taking silver on Australian Idol over 10 years ago. In her latest incarnation as actress of drama musical series “The Secret Daughter” where she is principally the soundtrack of the show as well, Jess has found a way to re-connect with the masses. ‘Fallin” – an original song taken from the soundtrack – saw her back in the Top 20 for the first time in two years and earned her three nominations at the ARIA Awards. The song’s bluesy and acoustic elements show what a timeless vocalist she has become, while still giving us something that feels delightfully current in a Sheeran-esque sense.

#28 – ALMA ‘Chasing Highs’

A Day-Glo, soulful-tropical house number propelled by one of the most distinct new voices in pop: ALMA. The Finnish star-in-ascendence presents herself an alternative next-gen pop heroin with an image that is distinctly her own and I want so bad for her to be a huge commercial success in the vein of Sia and Tove Lo.

#27 – SUNMI ‘Gashina’

Ex-Wonder Girls star SUNMI returns to the spotlight with an infectious and domineering modern banger. ‘Gashina’ hits all the trending sounds of the moment, blending dancehall and tropical house while giving you several moods. It is delicate yet aggressive at the same time, vulnerable yet utterly pissed off. ‘Gashina’ is a prima donna, she is me at work.

#26 – Iggy Azalea feat. Anitta ‘Switch’

Regardless of what you think of Iggy, this is a bop. A feel good, radio-ready summer jam that slots in with ‘Black Widow’, ‘Fancy’ and ‘Pretty Girls’. This is what Iggy does best. It’s glossy rap pop that doesn’t ask too much of its listeners, except maybe to jiggle one’s posterior or swing one’s hair while raising a glass of glittered Prosecco. This could have been us but somebody was playing too much. Also, I’d like to know who’s that shady fucker who filled in the chart positions on its Wiki page: #302 on the Russian Airplay Chart and #180 on the Aussie ARIA Singles Chart?

#25 – PRETTYMUCH ‘Would You Mind’

I wasn’t expecting for Syco‘s shiny, mega-hyped new boyband PRETTYMUCH to debut with a song that references so much of the late 90s/early 00s pop R&B. Yet here they are with airtight harmonies and grooves that rekindle the fire of New Kids on The Block and polish of N*Sync.

#24 – Louisa Johnson ‘Best Behaviour’

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this little Moombahton pop number the first time. I had to check that I had definitely hit ‘play’ on a Louisa Johnson record because this was not what I was expecting for Louisa Johnson to come out with. It felt fresh but pretty commercial at the same time. We’ve had so many people fucking with dancehall and tropical house, this was turning the different corner in the same postcode. Plus her vocals are so nauseatingly good. And you know it had to be in order to cut through all the bullshit screeching you lot are doing when she hits the key change.

#23 – 5 After Midnight ‘Up In Here’

I must’ve somehow missed this when it came out earlier in the year because it took for the release of “The Sauce” EP to jog my memory about 5 After Midnight. Gone are the days where I watched and blogged religiously about The X Factor. However, I was pleasantly taken aback by how sharp and immaculately produced ‘Up In Here’ was. It’s all furious pop-locking electro pop energy with carefully measured doses of rap and harmonies. A confident and fun debut that would have earned more than just a brief look in had it been released by a better positioned new act.

#22 – Uhm Jung Hwa ‘Ending Credit’

This was a very late addition to the list but ever since this song was brought to my attention four days ago, I have been utterly obsessed and I’m starting to feel like it’s not just a phase. K-Pop grand dame Uhm Jung Hwa‘s 80s synth pop ballad feels like a permanent mood. Adding to ‘Ending Credit”s charm is this fully choreographed and kitsch 80s-gazing music video, where a sentimental Jung Hwa reminisces on the old times in a theatre. Giving me San Junipero chills, chiiiiild. I aspire to be as fabulous as her at 48.

#21 – Sigrid ‘Strangers’

Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid have been hailed as one of pop’s new hopes and with plenty of good reason too. None of which I really took on board until ‘Strangers’. This is a trip. The deceptively calm and reflective opening verse is only there to serve as contrast to the agitated synths and punchy chorus to follow. If she continues to show this kind of range and raw energy, there’s no reason why Sigrid shouldn’t emerge as a true force in pop.

#20 – Tove Styrke ‘Say My Name’

It is quite criminal that this didn’t blossom to be the song of the summer. The potential was definitely there with Swedish pop sensation Tove Styrke striking out with her most colourful record yet. It might not immediately show itself to be but trust, ‘Say My Name’ is pure addiction with its ukulele noodling and shouty chorus. Both equal measures cool and inviting.

#19 – Carly Rae Jepson ‘Cut To The Feeling’

If the charts were powered by Gay Twitter posts, this would’ve been #1 for 37 weeks. In a time where any popstar worth their salt on the streaming charts are chasing trends, Carly Rae has stood her ground with her signature, euphoric synth-driven pop. There is no real age or time stamp to her songs. ‘Cut To The Feeling’, ‘I Really Like You’, ‘This Kiss’, and ‘Run Away With Me’ – all exist in their own realm of 80s-inspired millennial pop. Like a modern day rendering of Stock Aitken and Waterman’s magic. You couldn’t necessarily hear what was going on in the pop charts at the time when you play these records, and that in itself is what keeps it fresh in its own way.

#18 – Jennifer Lopez feat. Wisin ‘Amor Amor Amor’

I think this might be the catchiest J.Lo single she has released in awhile – and it’s very upsetting that it’s getting slept on so much. If this had been one of those Spanglish remixes, it might’ve gotten on more people’s radars here. This stroblit reggaeton track sounds like the meeting points of all the different musical streams of J.Lo’s discography – urban, rhythmic, Latin pop, electronic-dance.

#17 – CNCO and Little Mix ‘Reggaetón Lento (Remix)’

‘Reggaetón Lento’ has to be my favourite of all the smash Latin pop collabs to emerge this year. What a genius synergy for both bands – not just from the evidently harmonious blending of earnest vocals by CNCO and sultry maturity in Little Mix, but for CNCO, a Latin American boyband formed on another of Simon Cowell’s star-making TV shows “La Banda” (and mentored by Ricky Martin – !!!), this is the perfect introduction to the European market. For Little Mix, the perfect sound of the moment without the pressure of concocting something all on their own in the middle of a major world tour for the re-release of “Glory Days”.

#16 – Jax Jones feat. Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don ‘Instruction’

“If you’re the Supreme then I’m Diana Ross” – sounds like a burn tossed across the room at a Real Housewives reunion episode. This bossy little reggaeton zinger, co-written by MNEK, hears our evergreen young diva Demi Lovato confidently trying something outside her usual pop style with Stefflon Don adding some spice to the mix. I’d be fucking disappointed if don’t see a drag performance to this soon.

#15 – Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj ‘Swish Swish’

Oh this is very im_gonna_give_the_gays_everything_they_want dot gif, isn’t it? And I’m obviously here for it. Vogueing house beats? Check. Lyrics that read you for filth? Check. Empowering female pop star and accompanying fierce, boss bitch rapper? Check. And we are all present. Wonder if Tinie Tempah and Zara Larsson have clocked the track’s similarities to ‘Girls Like’?

#14 – Dua Lipa ‘New Rules’

What a relief that this has become the devilishly quotable, meme-generating monster hit that it has for Dua Lipa. Dare I say, ‘New Rules’ was a bit of a dark horse – having already released a handful of singles and collabs ahead of the album’s long awaited summer drop. It was surprising that this elaborately produced trop-house hybrid turn girl code became the one to take Dua to #1 and become the most streamed female artist of 2017. ‘New Rules’ sounds like nothing she’d done before or anything else on the album. What’s remarkable is that it appears to have engineered its own success, by somehow tapping into and feeding the zeitgeist. We’d be hard pressed to find a great triumph this year for a new popstar.

#13 – Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug ‘Havana’

I haven’t been particularly impressed with any of Camila‘s solo records but ‘Havana’ felt like the eureka moment some people have been trying to get me to see. An insanely catchy bop of the highest order, it felt like the timing was suddenly right and it all clicked for Camila. This tribute to her Cuban roots stands in a lane of its own in the midst of other popular Latin pop records scorching up the charts. Her assured and soulful performance of ‘Havana’ feels well beyond her years, making it sound like something from another generation entirely.

#12 – Tayá feat. Yxng Bane ‘When You’re Sober’ (Thomas Rasmus Chill Mix

This is actually the second time Tayá has been on my year-end list. What we’re gonna do from here on out is keep a close eye her because she is going to be huge. ‘When You’re Sober’ is a stormy modern R&B ballad that manages to be both emotionally intense and delicately vibey at the same time, largely due to Tayá’s honeyed vocals.

#11 – Raye feat. Mr Eazi ‘Decline’

100% here for the Ja Rule/Ashanti reworking, the Beyoncé and ‘Bug A Boo’ reference – I think if fashion is gonna keep snatching pieces from 2001 – 2005 then lyrically y’all might as well. In a perfect world, this would be the new ‘New Rules’ style success story. Feisty and made for throwing your hands. Everyone needs to get on board with this asap.

#10 – Rita Ora ‘Your Song’

Rise up, Rita. Rise up. This is the best fucking year to be Rita Ora since she debuted to be honest. After a few wilderness moments with some mouldy singles two years ago, it’s great to see that Atlantic is steering her to proper popstar terrain where she belongs. The beauty of ‘Your Song’ lies in its simplicity and Rita’s lightly raspy morning-after vocals. The seemingly unfussy production – where everything seems to adorn lightly around the main acoustic guitar frame and her vocals – that has done Rita favours. At a time where she’s still having a hard time convincing the masses she’s an artist not just a celebrity/presenter/social media boss, ‘Your Song’ couldn’t have been a better reintroduction.

#9 – DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller ‘Wild Thoughts’

A real turning point for DJ Khaled who led a surprisingly classy and subdued show here with ‘Wild Thoughts’. There’s little doubt in my mind that the voodoo of this song is down in huge parts to Rihanna and the Santana ‘Maria Maria’ sample. Warm, playful and alluring – this feels like it was designed for humid summer nights out under a full moon in a town that doesn’t know your name.

#8 – Mamamoo ‘Décalcomanie’

OK I know this was released in November 2016 but I’m often so fucking late with all things K-pop I don’t pick up on things until several months and seasons pass. Mamamoo is unquestionably one of the top girl groups to watch for at the moment, bowling over everyone with their powerhouse vocals and brassy funk sound. ‘Décalcomanie’ is pure crack, served with all the subtlety of glitter cannon hauled around the room by a dozen Vegas showgirls on roller skates.

#7 – Steps ‘Scared of The Dark’

The pop comeback of the year. Full disclosure, I wasn’t bothered about Steps the first time around but this 20th anniversary renaissance presented not only a dose of nostalgia for the old times but new music that brought out the best in their style (they thankfully eschewed tropical house and reggaeton beats this time around). From the dramatic opening strings, ‘Scared of The Dark’ instantly assures us that we are in safe hands. This was to be a confetti-loaded, electro disco showstopper with a palpable emotional core. It recalls the Eurodance servings we would have lapped up again and again at G-A-Y between 2010 and 2012. So basically, what I still listen to every other day. Speaking of which, here’s my Crying At The Disco – Act I playlist – do join in.

#6 – Anne-Marie ‘Ciao Adios’

I properly rinsed through this all summer. A searing kiss-off to a two-timing ex in the shape of a dancehall banger via Essex. You know what, it just dawned on me literally as I was writing this that I was probably channelling all my disappointment from a fling that faded away this year every time I played this song. Men really are trash. End of.

#5 – Dagny ‘Wearing Nothing’

Norwegian electro pop babe Dagny low key delivered one of my favourite summer soundtracks this year with ‘Wearing Nothing’. With shimmering melodies that soar over a cloud of breathy synths and funk guitars, the composition complemented the intimate lyrics about wanting to be completely bare and intimate with someone.

#4 – BLACKPINK ‘As If It’s Your Last’

Officially the most watched K-Pop music video of 2017 (with over 202 million views in six months), trumping even the mighty BTS. If BLACKPINK only managed to release just one single this year, they’ve certainly made it count. ‘As If It’s Your Last’ is a giddy mix of pulsating house, hip hop, and moombahton styles, with a power pop chorus that torpedoes off to full effect. It is simultaneously too much and moreish, which might explain why this was my most streamed track of the year on Spotify.

#3 – Charli XCX ‘Boys’

Do not be fooled by its seemingly simple soundboard of bleeps, glitches and daydreamy melodies – there are layers to this cake. ‘Boys’ is easily one of the most instantly charming songs of the year for me. Everything from Charli‘s zero-fucks attitude, the straight-to-the-chase lyrics, and down to the expertly layered arrangement just floors me. Flipping from this to her recently endowed “Pop2”, it’s clear that ‘Boys’ marks the spot between where she wants to be hyper-creatively and where she could excel in commercially.

#2 – Justin Bieber and BloodPop ‘Friends’

I don’t think I’ve ever been so strongly drawn to a Justin Bieber song before. It’s funny, the minute he steps back from the public eye and doesn’t want to court my attention, I come running to him. This collab with BloodPop is a steely, synth disco banger – not groundbreaking in anyway in a post ‘Dancing On My Own’ world. However, what the icy and mechanical sounds do bring to full effect is Justin’s breathy vocals and the distant feeling. I think I might be listening to this one for many years to come.

#1 – Jax Jones featuring Raye ‘You Don’t Know Me’

There is no denying this absolute beast of the record. When it dropped in December last year, I had a feeling it could (and definitely should) be everywhere but I had no idea how obsessed I’d become with it. In my pop mind, this was the sound of the underground. It was giving me the testosterone of Jamaican bashment crossed with the persistent and sleek, UK house beats. This just felt like a very natural meeting of two cultures. This is the sound of London and we got our it girl of the moment, Raye, delivering really cocky pure fire lyrics around the clock. It is a fist full of attitude but not too much that it overpowers the fun clubby vibe. Jax Jones has carved a new club classic that I sense we will be revisiting for many years to come in the way we do ‘Sing It Back’ and ‘Lola’s Theme’ now.

Check out the full Spotify playlist:

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Reactions to My 2017 Predictions

I had completely forgotten that I had done a 2017 predictions in music post at the start of the year. A Raven Symoné-esque gaze into the future, it was not. Upon reflection, some of the themes I had expected to come true have, while others, just like my diminishing annual promise to get in shape, have not.

Let’s recap, shall we?

“Sombre vibes and alternative sounds to the front”

‘Pure pop is over’, I declared, with the blow of a whistle and precise waving of arms like a referee in a boxing ring. I had said that in light of a post-Brexit Britain and Trump-reigned America, music was going to reflect the harsher socio and political climate. This was clearly written before I learned about “woke”, a widespread sun-blotting ‘movement’, fortified through social media, and peaking at its glossiest, most marketable zenith when Katy Perry hopped out with ‘Chained to The Rhythm‘ and Kendal Jenner with a Pepsi commercial she’d rather forget.

Grime and hip hop have certainly charted healthily in 2017 – any broadsheet would tell you that. This year saw Stormzy become the first ever grime artist to score a #1 album to a chorus of critical acclaim and screaming fans at sold out shows. We’d all soon stan Stefflon Don if ‘Hurtin’ Me’ or her feature on Jax Jones and Demi Lovato‘s bossy ‘Instruction’ haven’t already put her on your radar.

In the same gaze where I had pointed out artists such as Ray BLK would prosper, this year saw heads turned by the likes of alt-R&B dreamcatchers like Kelela, SZA, Sampha and Kehlani.

To say that the heartbeat of pure pop dimmed this year would be a reach, even for someone as naturally over-dramatic as me. The party raged on. The blood cells of eager-to-please Western pop fused with the viral sensation of its infectious, rhythmic Spanish cousins and out came cross-polinations of artists growing in different nurseries of major label divisions across the world, spawning global hits such as ‘Despacito‘ (Puerto Ricans Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Canadian Justin Bieber), ‘Reggaeton Lento‘ (Miami-founded CNCO with Britain’s pride Little Mix), ‘Mi Gente’ (Colombian J Balvin and French Willy William with Texas’ most prolific hot sauce carrier, Beyoncé).

Stan Twitter gurgled over Dua LipaRita Ora and Camila Cabello in the same breath as Taylor Swift and Little Mix. And whether you were checking for it or not, we’ve had a record number of solo One Direction records flood the market. 2017 is to the solo 1D harvest what 1999 was for the Spice Girls. Marinade on that fact.

“Nostalgic re-issues of classic 90s albums on vinyl will be a thing”

According to the Official Charts Company’s October publishing of the 40 biggest selling vinyl albums of 2017 so far… this was not what I had in mind. I am seeing Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, Beatles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, even Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. There’s a still lot of nostalgia, alright, but not the kind I’m here for. Dondé está Shania Twain “Come On Over”, Alanis Morissette “Jagged Little Pill”, Janet Jackson “The Velvet Rope”, Spice Girls “Spice”, Madonna “The Immaculate Collection” etc. etc.? If you are a hipster vinyl hound, find yourself a pop friend this Christmas and gift them a legendary 90s album of their liking this season. If you want to be a true friend – the kind of friend they sing about in the Golden Girls theme tune – I have seen Lisa Scott-Lee‘s ‘Lately’ and Nicole Scherzinger’s scrapped ‘Puakenikeni’ lying unclaimed in a bargain crate out in East London somewhere. You are welcome.

Speaking of pop nostalgia, take a huge fucking bow Team Steps and Bananarama for staging absolutely solid gold comebacks this year. Especially you, Steps. New music in 2017 that was on brand, on point and on the top of the bloody iTunes charts.

“Expect unexpected collaborations”

Well, that’s a fucking given. I was not exactly the Book of Revelations now, was I? This was a pointless prediction. A piece of recycled oxygen. Like the breath you just exhaled while you were diving deep into your car boot to fetch an oversized Ikea bag for your shopping.

I wasn’t completely off the mark here though. One certainly did not see the returned popularity of Spanglish pop. Not since Ricky Martin‘s hip-twisting World Cup anthem ‘The Cup of Life’ have we seen such unity of the two languages on a global spread – thanks to the aforementioned rather exciting and unexpected collaborations.

Where I was expecting more vibrant gumbos a la Cambridge classical-electronic band Clean Bandit meets Jamaican dancehall sire Sean Paul and karate-chopping Essex pop newbie Anne-Marie, it seems like what works is sticking with your peers. Calvin Harris grouped artists on the same eye-level of success for ‘Feels’ – Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean. Similarly, DJ Khaled drafted Justin Bieber and Rihanna for the respective hits. It just makes good commercial sense. So until there is a verifiable market for a Chainsmokers featuring Shirley BasseyLindsey Stirling and Mr Eazi collab, then I will just stay put.

At some point over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing my fave tracks of 2017 and my predictions for the state of pop in 2018. Now if that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

Chart Feed – 17.10.11

LMFAO has the biggest selling single in Australia this week with the charming and timeless jam ‘Sexy and I Know It’. The American dance duo managed to dethrone Kelly Clarkson after her one-week reign on top with ‘Mr Know It All’. This is LMFAO’s second #1 hit here following the massive ‘Party Rock Anthem’. Fun fact: ‘Party Rock Anthem’ is the second longest running #1 single Australia has had in this century – reigning for 10 whole weeks. The longest staying #1 single we’ve had since 2000 is still Eminem‘s ‘Lose Control’, clocking 12 weeks. That’s the one to beat.

Beyoncé‘s ‘Love On Top’ rises to a new peak of #21 in Australia this week. We remain as the only territory to have picked up this track and run with it. Over in the US, ‘Love On Top’ makes its way back up to #82 on the US Billboard R&B/ Hip Hop charts. Other Bey singles to be making waves right now include ‘Party’ (featuring André 3000) – cracking the US Billboard Hot 100 at #93 and seeing this success naturally reflected on the R&B/Hip Hop charts, where it rose to #9 – and ‘Countdown’, her third official single, rising to #66 on the American R&B charts. Over in the UK, ‘Countdown’ leaps from #171 to #77.

Ed Sheeran‘s ‘The A Team’ debuts at #32, becoming the highest charting new entry on our ARIA Top 50 this week. Elsewhere, major pick up from the following three singles who all managed to crack the Top 50 in their second week – Simple Plan ‘Can’t Keep My Hands Off You’ (#45), Katy Perry ‘The One That Got Away’ (#48) and Nicole Scherzinger ‘Wet’ (#49).

Watch Katy Perry performing an acoustic run down of ‘The One That Got Away’ on X Factor:


 

Cody Simpson‘s ‘On My Mind’ enters at #51 in Australia this week. It must really irk his minders to not see this at least crack the Top 50 after all the promo and Skyping he’s had to endure in the last seven days. On the plus side, the blonde teen’s album Coast to Coast rises ten spots to #16. I suppose he is winning after all.

Speaking of winning Aussies, Vanessa Amorosi‘s ‘Amazing’ finally cracks the Top 100 at #83 this week – no doubt thanks to the X Factor performance last week. Meanwhile, other Australian pop new releases like Natalie Bassingthwaighte‘s ‘All We Have’ and Stan Walker‘s ‘Light It Up’ have yet to show up in the ARIA Top 100. Change might be coming Nat Bass’ way, though. ‘All We Have’ suddenly enjoys some radio pick up, becoming the fifth most added new song to our airwaves this week. Shannon Noll‘s ‘Switch Me On’ plummets to #71 this week. People probably stopped buying it because they knew the album was coming [Editor’s note: in fact, A Million Suns as it is called came out on Friday].

Wynter Gordon‘s stunning ‘Buy My Love’ finally cracks the ARIA Top 100 at #77 after what has seemed like an eternity since the single was first issued to radios. I am not sure what’s inspiring the sudden pick up of late, but I’m sure glad it’s happening. It would be great to see this go Top 20 eventually just like its predecessors ‘Til Death’ (certified gold sales) and ‘Dirty Talk’ (last summer’s #1 which went on to be certified four times platinum sales). The album With The Music I Die shamefully remains well outside our Top 100.

Watch Wynter Gordon‘s ‘Buy My Love’ video:


 
360‘s debut album Falling & Flying tumbles to #10 in its second week. Meanwhile, over on the ARIA Top 100 – two of his tracks surface: ‘Boys Like You’ featuring Melbourne singer Gossling (#81) and his current single ‘Killer’ (#88).

Lana Del Rey‘s eagerly anticipated breakthrough single ‘Video Games’ debuts straight in at #98 this week. We all kinda saw this doing well ever since it started appearing on the iTunes charts based on pre-orders alone. ‘Video Games’ comes out in the UK this week, so check back next Monday to see where she lands on the British charts. LDR really is one of the best discoveries 2011 has brought to date. You can peruse reviews and pick up so many great descriptors of her style (eg. “gangster Nancy Sinatra“) but the package is probably best first experienced by watching the ‘Video Games’ video.

Here it is, in case you haven’t already been clued in on the Lana Del Rey movement:


 
Gotye‘s Making Mirrors remain as the biggest selling Australian album out there right now – sitting at #4 this week with a shiny new double platinum accreditation. The ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ warbler has earned seven 2011 ARIA Awards nominations including Single of The Year, Best Male Artist and Highest Selling Single for the aforementioned track with Kimbra. Gotye has also been confirmed to perform at the award ceremony on 27 November. Looking on the UK release schedule, I was surprised to find ‘Easy Way Out’ etched in for a 28 November release. Dude, this song is like less than two minutes long.

Sneaky Sound System‘s From Here to Anywhere debuts at #11 in Australia this week – becoming the third biggest new entry here. Other debuts ahead of the Aussie duo include Chris Isaak‘s new one Beyond The Sun coming in at #3 and Evanescence‘s much-touted self-titled comeback at #5. Meanwhile, the Sneaky’s current smash single ‘Big’ moves to a new peak of #58. It’s actually the second week in the row that the song has jumped ten places up the chart. At this rate, they should be well in the ARIA Top 50 by this time next week – right?

Bjork‘s Biophilia enters at a humble #48 this week in Australia and #21 in the UK – making this the lowest charting positions ever for her in both territories (I am, of course, only comparing this with her other studio albums – not greatest hits package, remix albums etc). Biophilia wound up with only 9,872 first week sales in the UK. I’ve come to expect a bit more from Bjork given all the publicity and attention she has garnered for this project’s multimedia elements. The experimental artiste definitely has more of a cult following, which usually means heavy first week sales, then you fall off the charts. If this is as good as it gets for the first week then we might be in trouble.

Watch the video for Bjork‘s newest single ‘Moon’:


 
Steps scores a comeback #1 album with their Ultimate Steps collection scorching up the UK charts this week, meaning the band can now proudly say they’ve had a #1 album in every one of the last three decades. But before we start toasting, Ultimate Steps pulled a humble 34,200 first week sales to go #1 – making it the second lowest selling #1 in the UK this year. Back in their hey day, Steps managed three million-selling albums – Step One (1.39 million, even though it never actually made #1), Steptacular (1.28 million) and Gold: The Greatest Hits (1.11 million). Could the Ultimate Steps collection gather enough momentum to reach those heights come their April reunion shows?

Evanescence‘s self-titled third album looked so certain to go #1 in the UK when the midweeks came in but by the week’s end, it finished the race at #4 with a total of 26,221 copies sold.

Adele is still canceling every other ho in the game here. The British soul siren is on course to become the first artist to score both biggest selling album and single in both the US and UK since The Beatles did it in 1964. Over in the US, ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is still unmatched as the biggest selling single of the year so far. ‘Someone Like You’ is hands down the biggest selling single of the year so far in the UK – clocking over 1.2 million copies. Y’know, at this rate, I don’t even think this year’s British X Factor winner has a chance of outdoing that come the finals in December. If you wanna compare, last year’s series winner Matt Cardle managed 810,000 copies to go #1.

Looking on the album charts, Adele has not only got the biggest selling album in UK this year with 21 (hitting 3.1 million sales), she’s also got the second biggest in its predecessor: 19. The third biggest selling album in the UK so far in 2011 is Bruno MarsDoo-Wops & Hooligans. Rihanna‘s mega hit album Loud and Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way rank at fourth and fifth place respectively.

Watch Gaga getting caught up in a little ‘Bill Romance’ just for Bill Clinton’s Decade of Difference Concert:


 
Rihanna‘s ‘We Found Love’ surprisingly holds on to the #1 spot for its second consecutive week. This is basically the first time since July that we’ve had a single stay longer than a week at #1. The Brits are going hard for RiRi. ‘We Found Love’ registered at 20% sales increase in its second week, taking home over 106,553 sales. Meanwhile, Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ clocks its seventh week at #2. Apparently this is only the second single in history to have spent seven weeks at #2 (and never go #1). The last one was All-4-One‘s ‘I Swear’ back in 1994.

Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine have the highest selling new single in the UK this week with ‘Stereo Hearts’ debuting at #3 with 68,287 first week sales. This is Gym Class Heroes‘ highest charting position there since their breakout single ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’ in 2006. That one also made #3.

X Factor winner Matt Cardle didn’t go stomping into #1 after all. His new single ‘Run For Your Life’ – which was written by Gary Barlow – debuted at #6, selling 39,633 copies to become the second biggest new release on the charts. Consider this, the previous year’s winner Joe McElderry also clocked #6 with his first original single ‘Ambitions’.

Watch Matt Cardle performing his next single ‘Starlight’ at an album showcase gig:


 
One Direction sees their hit single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ drop to #10 in its fifth week. The X Factor formed boy band is primed to launch their second single ‘Got To Be You’ on 14 November in the UK, a week before their debut album Up All Night arrives. The album features a track titled ‘Tell Me A Lie’ which was reportedly co-written by Kelly Clarkson. There’s also a RedOne produced track called ‘Save You Tonight’.

This year’s UK X Factor finalists will release their charity single – a cover of ‘Wishing On A Star’ – on 21 November. These charity records have all gone #1 and traditionally sold quite generously as well. The very first one, a cover of Mariah Carey‘s ‘Hero’ recorded by the 2008 finalists, went double platinum in the UK.

Scotty McCreery – the latest American Idol winner – has made history in his own way, y’all. The 18-year old’s debut album Clear As Day enters at #1 on the US Billboard 200, making him the youngest man to have a debut album enter at #1. The last record holder was R&B singer Omarion who saw his first album O debut at #1 in 2005 when he was aged 20.

Amazingly enough, Scotty is also the first American Idol winner since 2003 to have a debut album enter at #1. Clear As Day sold a meek 197,000 copies to top the charts. The last Idol winner to have an album debut at #1 – Ruben Stannard – pulled off 417,000 first-week sales. Just saying.

Gloria Estefan‘s comeback album Miss Little Havana made something of a death drop, y’all. After debuting at #28 – selling something like 17,000 first week copies – the Latin dance/pop album sank to #129 in its second week. I mean, damn. It’s almost enough to make a girl vow to never dance again. I love how the forums are crying murder now, blaming the album’s “Target exclusive” deal for the commercial floppage. Basically, if she had done a Walmart exclusive – which a lot of stars manage – instead of a Target one, things wouldn’t have looked this dismal. There are reportedly over 4,700 Walmart stores around the US and only 1,800 Target branches. There you go. Less Mami Gloria CDs to go around. Meanwhile, looking on the US dance/club charts, Gloria’s current single ‘Wepa’ tumbles from #1 to #7.

Watch Gloria going on The View to promote the new record and perform ‘Wepa’:


 
Taio Cruz‘s new single ‘Hangover’ (featuring Flo Rida) debuts at #62 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, further down, J.Lo‘s ‘Papi’ returns at #96 – possibly pushed by stronger club plays? The ‘Papi’ remixes move up to #3 on the US Billboard Dance/Club charts. Speaking of dance hits, Nervo‘s debut recording artist single ‘We’re All No One’ moves up to #31 on the US Billboard Dance/Club charts.

Monica‘s new single ‘Until It’s Gone’ makes a surprising leap in its second week to #55 on the US R&B/ Hip Hop charts. Its superb predecessor ‘Anything (To Find You)’ has done pretty well for a buzz single to reach #25 there. Old Mo’s seventh studio album New Life will drop on 29 November in the US.

Kelly Rowland‘s ‘Lay It On Me’ drops a few place back to #47 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip Hop. Wait a minute, shouldn’t it be moving up and not the other way? Here I Am [International Version] is slated for a UK release on 7 November, a week after the dance/pop single ‘Down For Whatever’ drops. Make what you will of this “international version”. She told That Grape Juice that it’ll be a revised tracklisting with more dance-oriented material but who knows, there hasn’t been any more information teased.

Steps reveal “Steps: The Ultimate Collection” Album Cover and Tracklisting

This is really happening but not in the big life-changing way Steps fans were hoping for.

Something tragic must’ve happened in my childhood for me to stop caring about Steps after ‘Last Thing On My Mind’. I know what you’re thinking. I judged them too quickly after only two singles but really, I’ve spent most of my notably (still) early 20s catching up on their latter singles at gay clubs. Therefore, it has all come full circle. I still refuse to do the ‘Tragedy’ dance moves but I am now aware of it.

Steps in their prime – see: three year reign from 1998 to 2001 – chalked up 14 consecutive UK Top 10 singles and managed to sell 15 million albums. They infamously announced their split on Boxing Day 2001 after raking in the revenues of some lucrative pre-Christmas sales but here they are again 10 years on to tactfully ask for more money by releasing their second greatest hits compilation of absolutely zero new material.

Check out the official tracklisting for Steps: The Ultimate Collection:

1 – 5,6,7,8
2 – Last Thing On My Mind
3 – One For Sorrow
4 – Heartbeat
5 – Tragedy
6 – Better Best Forgotten
7 – Love’s Got A Hold On My Heart
8 – After The Love Has Gone
9 – Say You’ll Be Mine
10 – Better The Devil You Know
11 – Deeper Shade of Blue
12 – When I Said Goodbye
13 – Summer of Love
14 – Stomp
15 – It’s The Way You Make Me Feel
16 – Here and Now
17 – You’ll Be Sorry
18 – Chain Reaction
19 – I Know Him So Well
20 – Dancing Queen (Bonus Track)

This new package will drop later in the year to coincide with a brand new four-part TV documentary where all five members finally reveal the ugly truth behind their split and I’m sure with all our combined knowledge of televisual scripting, we can see that there’ll be some tender moments of reconciliation happening too.

Let’s pause for a minute to reminisce on one of their best singles ‘Last Thing On My Mind’:

 

What is the situation with Steps? Some folks are gagging for new material while others are just happy for them to do one or two festival appearances for old times’ sake, then bugger off. Mixed pop groups don’t really work in today’s market unless it’s a hip hop plus sung vocals situation a la Black Eyed Peas and N Dubz. Besides, if Steps were to stage a proper pop comeback, they’d never compete with current contemporary acts anyway. The big selling point with Steps and all reforming 90s – or older – pop bands is the nostalgia.

There’s actually very little hope for these old timers to be taken seriously with new material. You’ll always be compared to your prime and you’ll always be judged for trying too hard. The obvious exception to the rule is Aqua, who’s 2011 pop comeback single ‘How R U Doin?’ is still amazing. Take note.

Before we leave, I think you and I need to quickly catch up on the solo successes each member of Steps has accrued in the 10 years since they split. The pungent smell of desperation wafting from this Ultimate Collection is only getting stronger, believe me.

 

Lisa Scott-Lee famously launched her own MTV reality show in 2005 (Totally Scott-Lee) in which she vowed to quit the music industry if her single ‘Electric’ didn’t debut in the UK Top 10. ‘Electric’ entered the charts at #13, missing the Top 10 by reportedly 500 copies. I actually rushed out to buy a copy in Australia and let me tell you, I was living for it. I stanned so hard for ‘Electric’ that I actually took it to the streets to play people the track and vox pop their opinion for my radio show.

I’ll never forget one man commenting, “It sounds like Michael Jackson…” doing a song about vibrators. Of course, my dear.

 

H & Claire – this was just too much for me to handle at the time. Listening to ‘DJ’ today with grown and well-developed homosexual ears, I can share some appreciation. Truly. H and Claire forged on as a pop duo right after the band split and actually managed to score three UK Top 10 hits. It’s a shame the album flopped disastrously otherwise they would’ve never been dropped so prematurely. Fast forward to 2011, Claire competed and came third in UK’s Popstar to Operastar. Bless.

Faye Tozer ended up pursuing a career in musical theatre, while Lee Latchford-Evans left the music industry altogether to become a personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur.

Footnotes:

Steps will release Steps: The Ultimate Collection later in the year and according to HMV, there’ll even be a CD/DVD edition. What value! The Steps documentary is set to air on the UK’s Sky Living channel. Can’t wait to see these hags dish the dirt and share the “real” tea.