Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Discopop Directory top 10 singles of 2011

It's that time of year again... As usual, the top 10 is dictated by my iTunes play count so I can't pretend I was cool and listening to Gil Scott-Heron all year, because I wasn't. It was this instead.

10)Nicola Roberts - Beat Of My Drum

One thing we learned this year is that, if you want the lead single from your album to be a gargantuan chart hit, you shouldn't get Diplo to produce it. Beyoncé flopped with Run The World (Girls), but turned things around with her mega-spectacular Glastonbury performance. Nicola Roberts had to make do with T4 On The Beach - where someone hit her on the head with a beach ball. Poor Nicola

9) Britney Spears - 'Til The World Ends

In which the lyrics of an REM song were set to the refrain of Baltimore's Tarzan Boy. Apocalypse Wow.

8) Adele - Someone Like You

A lady, a piano, a broken heart, a televised tear, a sales phenomenon, a modern classic. Of all the songs in the top 10, Someone Like You has the most passionate, believable vocal. Why isn't it higher? Because I can't shake the feeling that the key line: "I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded that for me it isn't over" simply doesn't scan.

7) Chase & Status ft Liam Bailey - Blind Faith

You simply can't go wrong by sampling Loleatta Holloway's Love Sensation and, in the year that she died, Chase And Status brought her disco classic bang up to date. Liam Bailey must have two-ton balls of steel, though. A total newcomer, he does all the vocal heavy lifting, ramping up the tension in the bridge so that Holloway's lines work as a pressure-release, arms-in-the-sky, hugging-complete-strangers moment. An absolute corker.

6)The Pierces - Glorious

I'm a sucker for a sun-kissed harmony, and this song is buckling under the weight of them. The middle 8 section - "I felt his hand today / Across my shoulder, I kneeled down to pray" - where the Pierce sisters go all coquettish and ethereal makes my spine tingle. A vain attempt to work out the intricacies of their pitching is what propelled this song into the top 10.

But I hadn't realised until recently that Glorious is a cover of an obscure 2007 single by US band The Levy. The original is a bit mopey, this is almost perfect.

5)SBTRKT ft Little Dragon - Wildfire

If Wildfire doesn't make your bottom move, then your bottom is malfunctioning.

4) Metronomy - The Bay

I swear that The Bay's synth riff intro is a tribute to Abba's Money Money Money (distressingly, if you type Money Money Money into YouTube, the second result is Jessie J's Price Tag, a song that wasn't even within sniffing distance of this list).

The track is probably the most explicit of the "I LOVE TORQUAY" songs on Metronomy's album about how much they love Torquay, which is really quite a lot. Crammed full of hooks and a strutting, sinewy bassline, it was also the best single they released in 2011. Even the remixes were superb: In particular Erol Alkan's extended version and the Cloud Control reworking, which took Joseph Mount's London-Paris-Tokyo lyrics and turned them into an existential techno travel advert.

The video, the band admitted, was a parody of Will Smith's Miami, filmed in England's sunny Torbay. Is there anything about this song that isn't incredible?

3) Lana Del Rey - Video Games

Gloomy and sexy like a David Lynch film, this song is simply beautiful.

2) Lykke Li - Sadness Is A Blessing

Gloomy and sexy like a David Lynch film, this song is simply beautiful.

1) Adele - Rolling In The Deep

Adele's producer Paul Epworth was interviewed on posh-nobs radio show Front Row last week, and talked about the making of Rolling In The Deep... Adele came to him with the opening line "There's a fire, starting in my heart" and they knocked out the song in an afternoon. It's an amazing piece of work - at once elemental, powerful and vulnerable.

Epworth deserves as much credit as Adele. There's a breath-stopping moment in the interview where he picks up the guitar he used on the track and chops out those muted opening chords. Even on a tinny broadcast microphone, it sounds almost like the recorded version, which goes to show how simple and clean his recordings are. Adele's writing and singing on 21 is fantastic, but its the production makes them leap out of your speakers like a panther. A big ginger panther with a filthy laugh. Song of the year.

Honourable mentions (aka "why didn't I listen to this as much as I thought I did?"): Robyn - Call Your Girlfriend / Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out / Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers / Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale / Ronika - Forget Yourself / Kanye West - All The Lights / Emeli Sandé - Heaven / Beyoncé - 1+1 / Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar / Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill / Rizzle Kicks - Down With The Trumpets / Foster The People - Call It What You Want / Bombay Bicycle Club - Shuffle

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