Somewhat of a hit-or-miss affair, though the hits were so good that it deserves to sneak into my countdown. This album had been brewing for quite some time, which resulted in a long string of singles before it was even released. This gave the final product more of a greatest hits feel than anything. Still, the single choices were brilliant and the combination of Lanto’s scratchy pop voice and a team of excellent songwriters proved more than effective to deliver a grade-a pop album.
If someone would have told me that I’d be including a boy band album on this year’s countdown, I wouldn’t have believed them. Despite growing up during the height of turn-of-the-century boy band hysteria, I’ve never been convinced that an entire album of the stuff is much to get excited about. Luckily, The Wanted shifted things with an unexpected, guitar and string-influenced sound. Beyond the singles, this is a remarkably consistent pop album brimming with potential hits. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would (and technically, it’s only the first of two boy band albums on the countdown this year)
It's that time of year again. Tomorrow kicks off my top albums and singles of 2010, and it's been a strange one. Bands I hated brought something new and surprised me, and some of my absolute favorites crashed and burned. As far as albums go, 2010 was easily the strongest since '07. Any of my top five could have been number one in '08 or '09. Last year I moaned about how much stronger the singles were than the albums they came from. Nice to see things turning around. The countdowns will run until the end of the year, so enjoy and feel free to comment! But before I start, it's time to honor tradition and post a sneak peak bit of statistics:
This year's albums:
Groups - 55% Solo Artists - 45% Debut Albums - 20% Second Albums - 35% Fourth Album (or higher!) - 35% Male Singers - 60% Female Singers - 35% Male & Female Singers - 5% American Acts - 20% UK Acts - 35% Swedish Acts - 30% Australian Acts - 10% Norwegian Acts - 5% Albums that saw a U.S. release - 40% Albums with any substantial success in the U.S. - 5% (this figure's always sad) Released in the 1st Quarter (including Dec. '09) - 5% Released in the 2nd Quarter - 30% Released in the 3rd Quarter - 25% Released in the 4th Quarter - 40%
This is the best Duran Duran have sounded since the 80's. In fact, this is sort of exactly how they sounded in the 80's. Girl Panic, from their new digital EP, has a real Planet Earth feel to it. That's probably why I loved it on first listen. As a band, Duran Duran have always been a mixed bag for me. I've only really enjoyed their first couple of albums and then a few of the singles after that. And I haven't been impressed with any of their more recent, "comeback" stuff. From what I've heard of the new album, it sounds like they're finally enjoying a sort of return to form. Much of the kudos should go to Mark Ronson, who produced the album with an obvious appreciation for the band's roots. Groups like this that have been around forever shouldn't try to chase trends. We love them because of what they do well, and they're better off sticking to that. This is a great example of Duran Duran knowing their audience. And in going retro, this sounds incredibly fresh.
X-Factor Wrap-up: One Direction - Forever Young & Altiyan Childs - Summer Of '69
I'm back with a double header today - two songs from my favorite acts in both UK and Australian X-Factor. Both shows have ended now, leaving behind a huge reality-show shaped hole in my viewing schedule until Idol and Melodifestivalen start early next year.
"Let us live forever"
I really did think that the momentum was there for One Direction to possibly be the first group to win the X-Factor. Instead, the prize went to boring, smug Matt Cardle, a contestant who I've never warmed to, though I'll admit he does have a good voice. For me, though, these shows have always been about more than the voice. It's all about charisma and personality, and judged by that standard these guys definitely come out on top. They've been the heart of the show this year, and always the funniest, most entertaining in video diaries and backstage clips. They're going to be huge, I'm sure (probably bigger than both Matt and Rebecca), but it was still difficult to see them go out third. Luckily, we've got their would-have-been winner's single floating around the internet, and it's really quite good. Much better than the dreary winner's songs performed on Sunday's show. Forever Young bridges the gap between their youthful pop appeal and a classic, melodic track. They sound great on it. In fact, I think a lot of people (aka: naysayers, of which there were many) will be surprised about how good this is. I only wish we could have seen it performed. Now I've just gotta wait patiently for the eventual album, reality shows, tv specials, etc.
Now here's an example of the voting public getting it right. In an underwhelming season, Altiyan Childs (winner of Australian X-Factor) stood out as one of the best performers the franchise has seen and certainly the best "over-25" ever. If you didn't watch the program, youtube some of his performances. I think you'll be impressed. After initially flubbing his words before making it to the live shows, he found his niche performing 80's hair-metal type songs. He's got a voice to rival Adam Lambert's in its power (a little bit of Ola Salo sometimes, too), but it's his ability to perform that really set him apart. Talk about charisma. He released an EP last week of his winner's single and many of the songs he performed on the show. I chose Summer Of '69 today (which, interestingly enough, One Direction also performed) because it's one of my absolute favorite 80's songs. These studio versions always sound a little karaoke, but Altiyan's got the chops to make this really special. I love the added synth touches, too.
...Transmissions come in from outposts all over the universe... Unfamiliar melodies stream into our radios... Fronted by colorful aliens with big voices... The music begins to catch on ... It's in our heads and it refuses to leave... And we like it...
I post music on this blog out of love for the artists and in the hope that I can promote the singers and bands that I am so passionate about. If you are (or represent) an artist and would like any content taken down, don't hesitate to email me at the link above and it will be removed immediately.