So that time of year again, the half way point, where there are songs which came out the previous year but I’ve listened to more this year. This one is a bit of a bumper year, as this is a top ten rather than a top five! Though I wonder if that’s partly down to 2019 being a little on the lean side for music? Well, I guess we can evaluate that at the end of the year. But, for now, here’s a top ten.
10) Cheat Codes x Kim Petras – ‘Feeling Of Falling’
I’ve liked a few Cheat Codes tracks and I’ve liked a few Kim Petras tracks, but I wouldn’t have put the two together. But them collaborating ended up working out quite well! This is an earworm of a track. The lyrics are of experiencing unrequited love and heartbreak, and a feeling it will inevitably be the same story this time, but clinging on to the hope that it won’t, while the production is subtle yet catchy.
9) Claire Richards – ‘End Before We Start’
Steps singer Claire Richards shows what a great vocalist she is on this track. This is also an unrequited love song, but this time it’s from the point of view of the person who isn’t in love, saying it will be worse if it isn’t nipped in the bud. It’s fairly classy in an understated kind of way, and Claire Richards gives an excellent vocal performance on it.
8) Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – ‘Shallow’
I haven’t seen A Star Is Born, but those of us who haven’t seen it will still have heard the main theme song from it, which won Best Original Song at the Oscars. Lady Gaga also received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, and Bradley Cooper was also a revelation on this song, proving to have a good voice. Let’s face it, there are plenty of examples of popstars being terrible at acting and actors making doomed attempts at pop stardom, so we should appreciate it when it actually turns out good! As someone who hasn’t seen the film, I get the emotion of this song and just from the video the relationship seems very believable, which shows how strong the track is.
7) Avril Lavigne – ‘Head Above Water’
The lead single and title track from Avril Lavigne’s latest album, this pop-rock ballad was a very heartfelt, emotional, and personal song for her, as it is about her struggle with having Lyme disease and trying to overcome it, and to try to raise awareness about the disease.
6) Vance Joy – ‘Saturday Sun (Ryan Riback Remix)’
Vance Joy (who is a singer-songwriter, but has a name that sounds like a band) is best known for ‘Riptide’, but I felt this song should have been as big a hit. It’s a wistful memory of a summer romance, and I’ve been playing it fairly consistently from summer 2018 to summer 2019! It actually almost made it into my Top Ten Songs of 2018. But the version I played is the Ryan Riback remix rather than the original. The original is fine, but I much prefer this remix. I suppose the steel drum sound makes it sound more summery!
5) Poppy – ‘X’
I’m a sucker for contrast, and this track has that with going back and forth between dark, screaming heavy metal and light ’60s sunshine hippy pop. I also really like the minimalist electronic part, where Poppy says “poetry… poetry… poetry… ecstasy…ecstasy…ecstasy”, and it finishes off as just a pop-rock track. All this plus the video featuring Poppy covered in blood Carrie-style, and sometimes wearing a silver crown. So in short, a lot of different things in this track, and I love them all!
4) Orbital feat. Professor Brian Cox – ‘There Will Come A Time’
Professor Brian Cox has recently done the brilliant documentary series The Planets (which hopefully I will try to blog about at some point, but it’s something that needs time).
This is far from his first time he’s taken part in pop music (he used to play the keyboard in D:REAM!), and indeed this might seem like a sample of a lecture or something, but no, he did this especially for Orbital!
The music Orbital do on this track is lovely, and evokes feelings of stars and the void of space.
Professor Brian Cox’s words include cold, hard scientific fact – that in 5 billion years time the Sun will die, which in turn will mean the Earth will. The atoms that once made the Earth, and indeed all of us individually, will go into outer space and may well become part of new solar systems. But even the universe itself isn’t eternal. We can’t do anything about that, but this track suggests that we can influence our future, such as environmentalism (“do we destroy our planet or protect it?)” and space travel, laying the groundwork for the possibility of the human race going to Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, even beyond that, at some point, and that perhaps the time now is to look at the bigger picture, what will benefit the whole planet, and therefore the human race, rather than fighting amongst ourselves and being closed-minded, seeking “refuge in the ignorant dark of the cave”. Both sobering and inspiring, ‘There Will Come A Time’ is a very thought-provoking track.
3) Silk City feat. Dua Lipa, Diplo & Mark Ronson – ‘Electricity’
This is an elegant and sophisticated dance track, very soaring and uplifting, and I like the metaphor of electricity as well, getting a feeling of light, spark and energy. In a way, this is Mark Ronson’s second showing in this list, as he co-wrote ‘Shallow’. ‘Electricity’ won an award too, Best Dance Recording at the 2019 Grammys. Dua Lipa had already shown that she makes an excellent dance diva on the huge summer smash hit ‘One Kiss’ with Calvin Harris, but I think she’s even better on ‘Electricity’.
2) Tom Grennan – ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’
OK, this one actually came out in 2017! But singer-songwriter Tom Grennan’s debut album, Lighting Matches, came out in 2018 so… OK, maybe that’s still a bit of a cheat. But ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ seems to be a bit of a slowburner, getting more attention after being included in FIFA 18 and Sky Sports. I’m also hearing it more on the radio. Anyway, I think this catchy indie-rock song is great, it has a lot of energy and swagger, and Tom Grennan puts it over well.
1) Allie X – ‘Little Things’
Allie X was also the top of my favourite songs of 2018 with ‘Not So Bad In L.A.’, and ‘That’s So Us’ was number 2 in my mid-year limbo chart in 2017. So she’s probably been my favourite new artist of the last few years! ‘Little Things’ is one of my most played tracks this year. It says how little things can build up and stress you out, and the song feels intense, but also strangely calming. It has epic and gorgeous electropop production, and Allie X’s soprano vocals on it are very good as well.