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Friday, December 17, 2010

Top 20 Albums of 2010: 20-19

20. Elin Lanto - Love Made Me Do It

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.


19. The Wanted - The Wanted

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)


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Top 50 Singles of 2010: 50-46

50. Lady Gaga & Beyonce - Telephone

Two of the biggest popstars on the planet and an epic, long form video. It was a deliriously entertaining way to start the new year.

49. Elin Lanto - Funeral

An anthem if there ever was one. She set the chorus to “soaring” and never let up after that.

48. Mike Posner - Cooler Than Me

A deserved hit for its sleek electro shuffle and endearingly catchy hook. One of 2010’s best one hit wonders.

47. Yolanda Be Cool - We No Speak Americano

The year’s best novelty dance tune, it’s as stupid as it is catchy. Infuriatingly catchy, as a matter of fact…

46. Alphabeat - DJ (I Should Be Dancing/Le Kid - We Should Go Home Together

I can’t separate the two because the bands are so similar. Both deserved wider success than they got this year. Two of the happiest songs of 2010.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

And on the 17th day, there were... Countdowns!!

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%


Duran Duran - Girl Panic

"I was going somewhere"

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.

Duran Duran - Girl Panic by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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.

One Direction - Forever Young by alienhits

"That summer seemed to last forever"

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.

Altiyan Childs - Summer Of '69 by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Not much to buy yet, but be sure to youtube them. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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