Friday, December 30, 2011

BEST OF 2011 : Honourable Mentions

Before we get to our No.01 Pop Single Of The Year tomorrow (any guesses as to what it might be??), we're here to present some of our other favourite moments of the pop year 2011.
It was a relatively quiet start to the pop year with highlights few and far between, but here are the other tracks we thought sparkled throughout the year (in no particular order)...
Chris Martin and co struggled to gain traction with 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall', the first single from their latest album 'Mylo Xyloto', but it's the album's second single that did the trick for the British supergroup - epic strings, soaring vocals and a catchy chorus all combining to ensure the band would spend the latter weeks of the pop year with a top ten, platinum-selling hit on their hands. Just try playing the song once and not walking away without humming along to that ol' familiar 'Para-Para-Paradise' or not falling in love with the elephant making his way to South Africa in the official video. Epic.
Former American Idol songstress Kelly Clarkson returned to our charts earlier this year with a track that, with a little help from an X Factor performance locally, saw her bag her first ever No.1 hit in Australia. The track has since sold double platinum down under (more than 140,000 copies sold) and things are also looking good for her next single 'Stronger', which continues to climb the charts. 'Mr Know It All' was a feisty mid-tempo pop track that lyrically had Kel dissing a controlling influence in her life. We loved it - and it seems that many other Aussie pop lovers did too!
Making her way across the Tasman with all the sexiness, style and swagger that we've come to love, New Zealand songstress and former Bionic Pixie Zowie hit the ground running with her delicious, punchy, electro-pop single 'Bite Back', which hit local media back in January. And although the single failed to fire on the local charts, we can't help but think that the pulsating single signalled the beginning of something altogether wonderful for young Zowie. No doubt only time will tell.
They're now on a new label, but that new label did nothing with the brand new Sugababes track 'Freedom' here in Australia this year. Released back in September in Britain, 'Freedom' was made available as a free download from Amazon and fans snapped it up. It was the band's first new material in 18 months and fans had been waiting patiently. We weren't disappointed. To us, the track was the most 'Sugababey' the Sugababes had sounded in years, sexing it up with the new line-up of Amelle, Heidi and Jade. Hopefully Sony Australia will get their Sugababes action on in 2012.
There's no denying the impact this young lady had on our charts throughout the course of the year. Australian radio virtually turned its nose up at Jessie J's first single 'Do It Like A Dude', but by the time the Logies rolled around back in May, her follow-up single 'Price Tag' ensured that pretty much the entire television industry knew every word. 'Price Tag' had the hook, the style and the sass to make it big all over the world and it peaked at No.2 on the ARIA singles chart, going on to earn a four times platinum accreditation for sales of more than 280,000 copies. But it's not about the money (money money).
How this young man isn't signed to a major label is completely beyond us. After giving away his debut album '8 Bit Heart' early last year, 25 year old US pop star Simon Curtis returned in 2011 with his second independent release entitled 'R∆'. The second single from the album was the electro-pop genius of 'Flesh'. A punchy synth-filled production with Simon's falsetto plastered all over the chorus, it starts off as a sexy mid-tempo number before exploding into a dancefloor ready gem at the 2:46 mark. Classy, Mister Curtis. Very classy.
Hitting in the middle of the year and spurred along by a live performance on 'The Voice' (on which both Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera were judges), 'Moves Like Jagger' was a megahit. Going on to sell around half a million copies locally, the track was the first top ten Aussie hit for Christina Aguilera since 2007's 'Candyman' and the first top five placing for Maroon 5 since 2004's 'She Will Be Loved'. It was an instant dance/pop classic, with Levine singing about impressing a girl with his dance 'moves like Jagger'. Seven times platinum and a whole lotta fun.
She'd originally offered this track to Kylie Minogue for her 'Aphrodite' project, but after Kylie rejected it for the other 'Put Your Hands Up' (written by Aussie duo Nervo), Nerina decided to keep it for herself and release it as the lead single from her album 'Year Of The Wolf'. Nerina's smoky vocals suited this track perfectly - an indie/pop nugget with a wistfully sublime chorus that burrowed its way into our hearts. As fresh as a summer's breeze and full of pure pop class, Nerina's 'Put Your Hands Up' was easily one of the year's best.
Any wonder why Beyonce scored some Aussie chart love with her single 'Love On Top' this year - it was fabulous. The singer chose to premiere the official video to Australia first and we here at auspOp were the first in the world with the official cover image. A platinum selling top 20 hit down under, the track harked back to the days of Motown, with simple, feel-good melodies, soulful vocals and not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR chord changes to keep things interesting. Beyonce's pretty classy most of the time, but this was old school and we loved it.
You didn't think we'd make it through a 'favourite tracks' countdown and not include at least one Take That song, did you? Lifted from the soundtrack of the latest film in the 'X Men' series, 'Love Love' also served as the lead single from the band's repackaged 'Progress' album. A thumping mid-tempo Stuart Price-produced electro-pop number, the track featured Gary back on lead vocals after he'd taken a vocal back seat somewhat on the original album. We loved the punchiness of this track, along with the falsetto used solely on the 'Love Love' lyric.
We really have to tip our hat to this track; officially one of the biggest homegrown singles in Australian chart history. The 'Somebody That I Used To Know' success story was borne from radio play on Triple J, which sent it soaring onto the mainstream music charts, which in turn meant that it had to be added to 'hit music station' playlists, given it was a hit and all. Mainstream success, half a million sales and a couple of ARIAs later, the track remains lodged in the Aussie top 20 and is a bonafide smash. Coupling stunning vocal performances from both Gotye and Kimbra, 'Somebody That I Used To Know' is the runaway favourite to take out the 2012 Triple J Hottest 100.
It's official. We like dance/pop Kelly more than we like urban/R&B Kelly. Fresh from her appearance in our top ten singles of 2010 (that would be 'Commander' with David Guetta), Kelly returned to our smash radar this year with the assistance of another DJ - Italian supremo Alex Gaudino. The twosome worked their magic into a hands-in-the-air club stomper that had us dancing up a storm upon its March release. Though success eluded them here in Australia, the track was a huge hit in the UK, where it peaked inside the country's top ten.
Look, we've been less than forthcoming with our praise of Ms Germanotta throughout the course of the year, but when she took us to 'The Edge Of Glory', we couldn't help but sit up and take note. This was Gaga doing what she did best - a track that wasn't particularly overhyped, but seemed to succeed on its own merits through its '80s Bonnie Tyler-esque rock vibe and Gaga's undeniably strong vocal. Yes, we admittedly started suffering from Gaga fatigue throughout the course of 2011, but we'll be watching with great interest to see what musical moves she makes next.
We love ourselves a bit of Washington here at auspOp, especially when she comes up with something as alluring and sexy as 'Holy Moses'. Coupled with its Fossey-inspired video clip; Megan resplendent in a flame red sequinned number and plenty of silhouetted imagery, 'Holy Moses' cast its spell on us big time - so much so that it almost ended up in our top ten. It's a crying shame that the single didn't make it at least into the top 50 because it was classy, punchy independent pop that begged for attention. You're a class act, Ms Megan.
Right, so across the course of the year, we've been inundated by hundreds of soulless dance/pop tracks that all sounded the same. Even The Potbelleez had to create a track that sounded like everything else just to get airplay. Stan Walker was in on the action too, but there was something about his single 'Loud' that was a little different to all the others - a little soul. There's no denying that Stan's voice is an extraordinary gift - capable of reaching some almost inhuman heights. It was the chorus of 'Loud' that got stuck in our heads, as it did for a number of people across the country. It was Stan's second ever top ten hit and a platinum selling smash.
Aaah Britney. With a career now spanning 13 years, Brit can be a little hit and miss at times, but the girl still knows how to pull a crowd. And though she may never step foot on Aussie soil again after her last tour and the scathing reviews she received, it's comforting to know that we still give her a little chart love every now and again. 'Till The World Ends' was a prime example. It was a top ten double platinum smash here in Australia and if the Mayans' prediction of a cataclysmic event that would bring about the end of the world late next year are correct, we'll at very least have a song to celebrate it.
She may have had a little bit of chart success here in Australia via her appearance on LMFAO's hit 'Champagne Showers', but apart from that, British singer songwriter Natalia Kills is pretty much an unknown quantity here in Australia. Which is a crying shame, because we reckon her music would have gone down ever so well here. 'Wonderland' was Natalia's first single of the year over in Europe and although it didn't perform particularly well anywhere, we still think it's a pretty solid pop song. We're hoping for a lot more Natalia love in 2012, but in the meantime, you can check out her album, which was given a hush-hush release onto our iTunes store back in September.
And finally 2011 was an awfully good year for New Zealand songstress Kimbra, who's now calling Australia home. Her first single for the year was the sublime 'Cameo Lover'. It was summer-fresh, bright and effortlessly fun, paving the way for her album 'Vows', which was to conquer the Aussie top five on its release late this year. Combining the success of 'Vows' and her featured performance on the biggest selling Aussie single of the year (of many years) 'Somebody That I Used To Know', 2011 was a year that Kimbra won us all over with her amazing talent.


Will said...

A great list, auspOp! My favourites for the year are Sia/Guetta's Titanium and Adele's Rolling in the Deep (so that'd be my guess for number one). Without having to analyse it too much, it's a great track, awesome lyrics, flawless vocals. Timeless!

Anonymous said...

I agree Will. auspOp this list is worthy, thank-you. Lady GaGa - The Edge Of Glory is my favourite of 2011.
For some unknown reason i am predicting One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful as the #01.
If it is...I will be bitterly dissapointed! Then again, it could be Rihanna & Calvin Harris - We Found Love.

stampy said...

Love that you feature Simon Curtis. His album RA is my favourite for 2011.

Arlen said...

Hmmm Ed Sheeran's 'The A Team' a possible contender for #1 then?
Although seeing Beyonce's 'Love On Top' on your list proves anything could make it :S

Tuvak said...

auspOp weren't too keen on We Found Love when it came out so I'm not expecting it to be number one (even though I love it!).
They gave a lot of love to Darren Hayes this year and he didn't make the honorable list, so maybe 'Bloodstained Heart'?? Not very poppy though so I doubt it, but a very worthy number 1 if you ask me!

JimJim said...

Loving nearly all these honourable mentions!

It's particularly fantastic to see some love for the Nerina and Natalia tracks, both criminally under-rated!

Anonymous said...

Adele - Rolling in the deep?
Please just no LMFAO