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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Top 100 Singles of 2004-ish: 85-80
85. TATA YOUNG - I Believe

Thai starlet Tata could have, if the time had been right, made a splash with her previous single, the nagging and annoying but eventually irresistible Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy but this is the more substantial, catchy song. Something of a bridge for me this year between Europop and Asian pop - it's not hard to imagine this having a slightly different beat, maybe some guitar added and it being served on a platter to some raunchy Swedish lass, but Tata makes a good go of it, milking the trite lyrics for all they're worth, making it playful rather than cloying.
Also search: I'd Do Anything To Make You Love Me

84. MARLY - You Never Know

"Haha! She's Danish! Like Whigfield! Remember Whigfield? Wasn't she funny?". Idiots. I must admit I predicted big things for this single when I heard it back in April, and to see it stiff just inside the UK Top 30 about 5 months later disappointed me, because the Morjac Radio Edit of this is as fine an example of pop-dance as you're likely to have heard this year. I love the intonations Marly gives the lines on the verses, sliding around the verses in a sort of naughty fashion, actually giving it some personality before abandoning any quirks or kinks to deliver the chorus exactly as it was intended.

83. DANNII MINOGUE vs FLOWER POWER - You Won't Forget About Me

The individual elements of this are great, so why I've put it at #82 I don't know, but a listen of it next to I Begin To Wonder or Don't Wannt Lose This Feeling confirm my ranking - it's not quite in the league of those two, but it's still great. Of course, Dannii's flighty cooing of the chorus works, and the gliding strings behind it are wonderful, it's just that she's done better, and will do so again. After all, she has never been one to give an album's best track away as the first single.

82. AMY WINEHOUSE - Fuck Me Pumps

A cork pops, and it may as well be someone clicking their fingers and demanding "Cue glamour!". But it isn't glamorous, the character in this song is pathetic. But it's easy to point out people's flaws, and Ms Winehouse at least acknowledges that the skankily dressed good-time-gal and her ilk keep the nightlife alive, and it's almost affectionate. Equally crucial is the fact that this sways and bounds very agreeably even if the lyrics aren't quite as clever as Amy thinks they are.


What I said earlier about covering rock songs becomes even more true as the age of the original increases. Faceless trance-pop in a good way, and funny to boot. The original was funny too, it just took a hilarious dance version to make me realise it. Someone (who? I can't remember) said it helps if you hate Alice Cooper, but that's simply not true, as I have great regard for the man dating back to watching an old Beta tape of his Muppet Show appearances as a tiny person. Lighters are waving, strobe lights are flashing and I'm dancing in my chair right now.
Also search: She

80. GABRY PONTE featuring LITTLE TONY - Figli Di Pitagora

Gabry was in Eiffel 65, who if I ever listened to beyond the singles which I didn't like, probably would have totally been my thing. Especially if they had any more songs like this one - which has now been re-recorded solo with the assistance of Little Tony. And to put it mildly, it's absolutely glorious. Every cheesy Italo-disco cliche is wheeled out and a new pop axiom has been found: disco songs are even better when sung by crooners and accompanied by fuzzy, swirling Italo house. If Dragostea Din Tei was your favourite single of 2004, you should consider this as a contender for your #2.
Also search: Gabry's excellent cover of The Rasmus's In The Shadows.
# 8:34 PM []

Friday, December 10, 2004

Top 100 Singles of 2004-ish: 92-86
92. THE DIVINE COMEDY - Come Home Billy Bird

Maybe it's because I was an indie kid in the 90s, but I heart Lauren Laverne, who gets to sing the delightful chorus on this ode to a weary air traveller, meaning that I can enjoy this without actually listening to that bloke from The Divine Comedy going on and on. Not that he does, this crams in four - count them - verses, four choruses, each of them as meltingly sing-along as the last. It still sounds like the romanticised idea of the English coast held exclusively by people who have never been there. And as a character narrative, it's rather sweet and likeable, which is a bit of a rarity.

91. TESS - The Second You Sleep

At first glance, almost an odd-man-out in a sea of indie and rock in this entry, but lo, this is a cover of Saybia's extremely affecting 2001 single - I love Scandinavian rock, even long after the UK and US equivalents have soured in my mind -done as a glorious up-tempo Europop stormer. Basically, then, my two favourite genres in one. Tess doesn't quite put enough feeling into the key line - "I wish by God you'd stay!", so it is a tiny bit unfeeling, but by finding the insidiously catchy lighters-aloft, handbag-in-the-air monster that possibly lurks in every dressed-down guitar dirge and bringing it out so well, it's worth more than being heard as part of an A-B comparison with the original. More Europop covers of rock songs, please.

90. RAMMSTEIN - Mein Teil

Functional, if not literal translation: You are what you eat. And you know what it is. It's my dick. Yes, a song about that crazy German guy who tried to eat his boyfriend's penis, but ended up with inedible crispy cock because it's all cartilege or something. And it's comical in a way that is clearly trying to be menacing, but can't quite get there because the whole thing is a punchline.
Also search: Moskau, Amerika

89. BLINK 182 - I Miss You

Between 1997 and 2002, ver 182 could probably stake a claim as being my Least Favourite Working Band. Everything between, shall we say, Dammit and Stay Together For The Kids brought out a kind of seething rage that I couldn't quite explain. But before those songs, I quite liked the old Blink - I even borrowed a copy of their early album Cheshire Cat and quite liked it. So this is their best single since Apple Shampoo or M&Ms - give me another few listens and I may yet say it's better, but it's a slow-burner. Hoppus and DeLonge still sound annoying but it fits this time. "You're already the voice inside my head (I miss you" - that shouldn't work, but it does.

88. TEDDYBEARS STHLM - Cobrastyle

Built upon a sample from Mad Cobra, but so much more than that. As any fool knows, the key to a hook you can't understand is sound you can work with. You might have to approximate it when you sing along or dance to it "Bom diggy bom bi dang-by dang diggy diggy" but that's essential for it to find purchase in your brain. A teensy bit of an underground favourite amongst pop snobs outside its home country of Sweden (STHLM = Stockholm), but a big hit within, and rightly so - a collision of hooks and styles, guitar bits, beats, "whoa-whoa-whoa" - everything mindless and catchy present and correct.
Also search: The album, Fresh. It's really great.

87. THE FUTUREHEADS - Decent Days And Nights

At first it sounds shambolic and thrown together. That's about as far from reality as possible, as this is meticulous in its lo-fi detail; from the clunkily thrown-together phrasing of the chorus, the two-part line repetitions that flow over each other, the jolting indie-dance strut of the riff, the way it's shouty and angular but not too shouty and angular to be peppy and poppy.
Also search: Most of the self-titled album, but especially Hounds of Love.


Music to be uproariously happy to. A show tune that exists without a show, a mournful middle section, choruses that warm the heart and just about every other place, trumpets that are clarion calls demanding you stand to attention and be CONTENT RIGHT THIS MINUTE - an absolute triumph of uplifting that would surely have the same effect on anyone else who has a heart. At this rate, the third stage of the Spree should be hugely zesty indeed.
# 8:55 PM []
Top 100 Singles of 2004-ish: 96-93
96. FREELAND - Supernatural Thing

Actually I heard this in 2003 but it came out in January, and how something so buzzy and squelchy flopped so majorly I don't really know. Possibly a little too long and brash to be a pop single, and a little too slow to be a dance single? The world's loss.


There's a little bit (though not much) flab on Courtney's album, but there's absolutely none on this single. Three minutes stuffed to the gills with great Courtney moments - self aggrandizement, drugs, sex, everything you'd expect. Anthemic chorus? Check. She doesn't bother to hit notes or anything, but her sneer is the charm and hook and nobody crafts a lyrical hook like her, much though everyone may try.

94. EMMA BUNTON - I'll Be There

I love this a lot, but Emma, Emma, Emma, you really should have released Breathing instead - that'd gave given you Number One on a platter. Still, this one is full to the brim with classic moments - the harmonica solo, the way the end of the first chorus sounds like the very end before the second verse comes in, the sweeping strings behind the verses, the fact that Emma really can sing...

93. DAVID GUETTA - Just A Little More Love

The opening track and first single from the rather fine album of the same name, this is a rather wondrous piece of franco-dance as uncomplicated and bounding as you could wish for. It's just so... nice and optimistic that I can forgive the fact that it seems silly that such a trite lyric is sung so absolutely earnestly - but I wouldn't want it any other way.
# 1:01 AM []

Monday, December 06, 2004

Top 100 singles of 2004-ish: 100-97
100. KAKSIO - Tytto Taansii Vaan

Those crazy Finns doing a rather better job of making the sort of stuff that Kylie's Body Language LP should have sounded like - alien bleeps, choruses that were off-kilter but endlessly catchy even if you don't understand a word of it and a general atmosphere of futuristic cool.
Also search: Ajatellen Sua

99. BELLE & SEBASTIAN - I'm A Cuckoo

No longer can I use liking Belle & Sebastian as a reason why indie kids have worse taste than me because this really was quite an excellent single. It helps to be obvious with your influences - here, The Boys Are Back In Town, but it's slightly more important to have hooks everywhere, which this does - the sprightly brass in the break, the memorable lines in the verses, the cute little riffs that introduce the song - these people were supposed to be twee - right?

98. PAPS'n'SKAR - Mirage (La Luna)

A true exemplar of simple, catchy Europop, perhaps a less manic Junior Senior without that drum sample. Ingratiatingly catchy - particularly the chorus and the differently-voiced prechorus. A simple beat, a simple melody, even simpler lyrics, all repeated endlessly - not too much mystery here, but done with a great deal of skill and care - a little bit special as a result.


It's remarkable how much stick Paolo gives this when everything else sounds cheap - the whole thing sounds constructed on a moderately-priced keyboard - with the crowning glory that elevates this into being delightful is merely the result of someone who turned their MIDI sampler onto "Orchestral Hit" and pressed two notes in the chorus. It's certainly cheap, but it's also very playful at the same time. His ladylove would have to be able to look past the cheap clothing (the production) but with this much enthusiasm, it doesn't seem important.

# 4:51 PM []
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