Category Archives: Eurovision
Better late than never, right guys?! Well, forgive me for being tardy to the party, but I’ve been getting stuck into my creative writing again. All 13 Episodes (the first season) of The Caliente Affairs are available to read on this website now, but I’m going to make a proper blog post about that (along with the accompanying movella) later on; probably tie it in with Valentine’s Day – because, you know, love and what have you.
I’m here today to tell you what music I listened to in 2013. More specifically, what NEW music I listened to. Thanks to my last.fm profile, I can share with you my Most Listened to Albums from 2013. In reverse order…
I have a somewhat rocky history with Ellie Goulding. I didn’t like Starry Eyed, but loved Under The Sheets, and Guns And Horses, but those two singles kind of basically flopped, so her album was reissued with more tracks that basically recycled the sound of Starry Eyed – and thus her career took off again and she stuck to that formula, very rarely straying from it. The times she does are when I enjoy listening to Halcyon – specifically the deluxe edition track Ritual. But again, her album was reissued (that’s right, four copies of this album now exist), and Ritual was cruelly made unavailable for streaming in the UK. For those of you who can, listen to it.
Cher made a great and welcome comeback in 2013, but Kate Nash still hasn’t found a comfortable sound for her much needed comeback. There are flashes of brilliance, such as Death Proof (named after her (and possibly my) favourite Tarantino film), but it barely sounds like a key on her once familiar piano was even touched. Trade the guitars in for something else. Hey, you could try synthesisers. It apparently worked for Daft Punk, although in my humble opinion, R.A.M. just sounds like elevator Muzak!
Whilst not all the tracks on Leona Lewis’s festive themed album sparkled like tinsel on the tree, it was well received when played for the family. And it gave us that batshit crazy performance of One More Sleep, so I suppose we have that to be thankful for.
Demi Lovato looks to have found UK chart success, after starting and stalling with Give Your Heart A Break, and Skyscraper (which was cruelly covered in a less than impressive but stupidly successful karaoke-fashion at the end of 2013). Heart Attack was the obvious standout, but a nice surprise came when Cher Lloyd (much missed, come back soon) lent her vocals to Really Don’t Care.
13 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
I listened to this in full, apparently. I wouldn’t have guessed, it was so forgettable, however Annabel was beautiful. I guess I look forward to rediscovering this in 2014 whilst watching the accompanying short film.
15 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*), OWNED (^)
Perhaps unfairly outdoing every diva in the comeback category was Céline Dion (you were considered, Ciara, but most of those 15 plays were for Livin’ It Up, which I deemed my sexyjam of 2013). It was well worth the wait, it’s been decades since I’ve actually enjoyed listening to Céline Dion, and I’m glad to be proud of saying that I do listen to her, as now she has this amazing new album to backup my praise. She’s never sounded better, have you listened to Breakaway? Another artist back to receiving high praise from me – Fall Out Boy. Proof that something good can come from having a complete mental breakdown but rebuilding yourself as something new; more positive (*coughAmandaBynescough*). Stay strong and stick with this new found sound. Speaking of new, Tamar Braxton was a pleasant find in 2013. The only thing I knew about her prior to listening to this album were that she is related to Toni Braxton, and her reality show persona was impersonated by a drag queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Oh, and I suppose I should say something about Katy Perry. Nothing was as good as your t.A.T.u. rip-off, but your Loreen rip-off, Unconditionally, comes close. Also, I should point out the Sia-penned track Double Rainbow. I can’t hand out praise to Céline without giving credit where credit’s due (Sia was a writer on Loved Me Back To Life)
17 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
Matangi gets off to a mixed start, but really hits its stride from aTENTion onwards, peaking with Bad Girls and maintaining the pace from then on. M.I.A. threatened to leak the album if Ιnterscope took any longer to negotiate a release date. BADASS! And I like to think, Beyoncé’s inspiration! Janelle Monáe gave us an impressionable performance of Dance Apocalyptic on the David Letterman show (literally, ON it!), and we have this album to thank for that. Lastly, Hurts deliver what is quite possibly their most impressive work to date. Have you listened to Somebody to Die for?
18 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I have always liked P!ATD‘s music; it’s amazing how consistent it’s remained in spite of the tumultuous path of the band. I think this is their best overall offering since A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I am especially fond of Girl That You Love, and I found the video for Girls/Girls/Boys rather *ahem* eye-catching. Truth be told, I knew nothing of VV Brown until Popjustice wrote a raving review of her 2013 album, calling it the greatest album of the year. And, they weren’t too far off. It is very good, especially The Apple. Avril Lavigne’s eponymous album may be her best record since her debut. No stand-outs, but strong overall. And Diana Vickers made her long awaited return, after being royally screwed over by record labels; I hope she finds a voice in the future as an independent artist.
19 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I am always baffled by the United Kingdom’s inability to get on board with Eurovision. It’s a viable launching platform for genuine talent, not someplace to parade oddities and the elderly (well, mostly). It’s done wonders for the careers of Loreen, and Emmelie de Forest. And, had she released an album in 2013, I’ve no doubt Margaret Berger would have featured highly on this list (her two singles alone clocked up 10 plays each). So, it’s of no surprise that Germany’s favourite faux-Londoner has found a place in my heart, and in my ears. Stardust builds on the more mature sound of her 2011 album – famous for Taken By A Stranger, her sophomore addition to Eurovision history (you know, that song that sounds like it kind of features the tone one would hear when receiving a message on Grindr, which is exactly what I like to think it is, given the seedy undertone of the lyrics). Forgive me for skipping one track on Delta’s redux, I was listening to it on Christmas Day and perhaps had more urgent places to be, things to do, people to see! Regardless, I found this a lovely little treat and it only helped secure my love affair with ol’ Nina Tucker, after having recently imported her most recent album of new material, which was cruelly overlooked outside of Australia. I hope when (if) her new album is released (featuring 2013’s Heart Hypnotic), they will include some of the tracks from Child of The Universe as a bonus (or maybe release the whole thing, like how No Doubt’s first two albums were released after they became successful). I don’t think Between is better than Frankmusik’s second album, Do It in the AM, but it’s still pretty catchy in parts.
22 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*), OWNED (^)
I knew nothing of AlunaGeorge, and I think it was twitter buzz that may have lead me to finally cave in after three months and listen to Body Music – and I’m glad I did. It’s a very good, very in-depth introduction to what is sure to be a steady stream of funky Electronic R&B hits (let’s hope there’s none of that disastrous straying from genres that sometimes occurs… I’m looking at you, Ting Tings… you couldn’t just stick with Hands and given it us nine more times, could you, no, you had to go and record an entirely different sound). Speaking of entirely different sounds, is that a Christmas Tree angel I hear? No, it’s the beautiful voice of Kelly Clarkson. Wrapped In Red deserved to be more well received in the UK, as it was miles better than Leona’s attempt at a Christmas album (as is evident by its five original pieces, two of which, Wrapped In Red, and Underneath The Tree, are sure to become festive favourites for years to come). And it takes some cojones to outdo Imogen Heap, but BY GOD does Kelly not only outdo it, but her version of Just For Now is knocked out of the preverbal ballpark. Who knew?!
Whilst we all know who was my favourite country in 2013’s Eurovision Song Contest (I still regret not buying her albums when I was actually in Norway last year), I was happy with Denmark winning. Even though Only Teardrops is not the best song on the album, it is the reason the UK got it at all. Tracks like Hunter & Prey, Change, and Beat the Speed of Sound show that Emmelie is on her way to fleshing out a rich sound like past Eurovision winners.
I can’t believe how young Lorde is; having written and recorded Royals when she was only fifteen, she shows more talent than even the most seasoned of professionals. Even though I much prefer Team over Royals, but that may be due to the fact that Royals has become saturated and overplayed. I fear wether Lorde will be able to match the success of her first single, and suffer the same fate Lana Del Rey did – where the (much more solid) tracks Blue Jeans, and National Anthem did not chart as well due to radio stations and music channels constantly playing Video Games and Born To Die (in fact, Lorde cites Lana’s lyrics as inspiration to Royals, making it the antithesis to the opulence referenced in songs from Born To Die). It’s not as if she won’t recover; this is only the start of a what I predict to be a very fortunate career.
27 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH, OWNED
Filling the boots of Brite Futures wasn’t going to be easy, but BY GOD do Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party come close. Naturally, as they were tour buddies with Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. Fitting somewhere snug in-between Capital Cities and CSS, Top Less takes themes already explored by NPSH, like sexy facial hair and a seductive ingenue, and breathes new life into them, keeping the sound retro yet relevant and timely. Sound like a paradox? Scared the universe will fold in on itself? Then good, you’re starting to understand the sound of TLGLTP!
28 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I’ve always been a fan of Miley’s music, from back in the days when she was singing songs written by Ke$ha (another much missed artist in 2013; get well soon), it was inevitable I would find something I liked on her highly anticipated, unapologetically controversial album… *cough* Bangerz. It all started with the aptly titled We Can’t Stop, and only got better with Wrecking Ball. The album grows even stronger with the best track, Drive. I fail to understand why Adore You, the weakest opening track on an album since Selena Gomez’s Birthday, is being promoted over the untapped gold that remains buried between the less than sparkling tracks.
40 PLAYS, TWICE THROUGH
A rock band to rival my love of No Doubt? I think it’s possible. Trading in Gwen Stefani’s west-coast twang for a much more chilled and relaxed Feist-vibe, Haim came out of obscurity to score a number one album in 2013 – despite me having already seen them perform in 2012 (only, I didn’t know who I was watching at the time). This is the kind of sound you wish Estelle would have come back with, but instead it was up to three sisters from America to show me what I didn’t even know was missing from my life. Now, songs like Falling, If I Could Change Your Mind, Forever, and Send Me Down will forever be emblazoned on my Most Played lists.
43 PLAYS, ONCE (*), TWICE (²)
45 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
49 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
There’s a certain sound Britney Jean should’ve stuck to. When it hits the mark, with songs like Work B**ch, Now That I’ve Found You, and Til It’s Gone (despite it’s erroneous lack of an apostrophe), Britney Jean is almost perfect. But when it falls short of the mark, in mediocre performances of Alien, Don’t Cry, and Chillin’ With You (redeemed only by the appearance of Jamie Lynn Spears), it’s easy to attribute poor sales to a lack of quality, rather than the more glaringly obvious reason of mismanagement and under-promotion. Thankfully, even when it’s off, it’s still Britney, and she only has to deliver one stand-out track like Perfume to justify the entire album. I look forward to the obvious upcoming duet with Katy Perry on the track Passenger (Remix – à la Till The World Ends); with her two year residency in Vegas, I’ve a feeling Britney Jean will eventually find its deserved audience.
50 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
The reissue, adding the superb We Got The Power, means I can happily include this as my second most listened to album of 2013.
163 PLAYS, 6 TIMES, OWNED
Fusing together every facet of her life, Natalia Kills managed to produce not only one of the best albums of 2013, but the best album of career. Lessons learnt from Perfectionist (or rather, the chart failure of Perfectionist), Natalia moved away from the tailored professional pop sounds helmed by Martin “Cherry Cherry Boom Boom” Kierszenbaum, and decided to let everything in Trouble sound more pure and deep. Collaborating with Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker, Natalia was allowed to express her raw emotions in songs such as Stop Me, and Watching You. You don’t have to know in-depth about her past in order to hear the pain and struggle she’s gone through. If Daddy’s Girl, Devil’s Don’t Fly, Marlboro Lights, or Saturday Night don’t paint a picture for you, then… you’re simply dead inside! I pray to every deity in the ether to let this girl shine in 2014; not only is she worth the accolades, but this album, her words, they deserve to have a wider audience.
ALBUMS I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN TO IN 2013 DESPITE CLEARLY BEING QUITE GOOD
I love my Grandma.
She is called Annie, is 92-years-old, and has lived in the same house (I think) for as long as I’ve been alive. Because of her, I had my very first holiday abroad, to the magical Disneyland Paris (or EuroDisney, as it was known back when I first went). I must have gone four or five consecutive years in a row, and I have fond memories from every time. That was over twelve years ago, but this year, thanks to her, I was once again off on a holiday abroad. Along with my dad, we journeyed on a coach down to Southampton and boarded the Oriana cruise-ship, setting sail to Norway.
I didn’t know much about the country before I arrived. One quarter of Aqua originates from Norway, and in The Aqua Diary VHS there is a small look at Lene’s hometown. Also, they (undeservedly) finished last in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, so we have something in common. We had roughly a two day sail until we arrived in Norway; so during this time, I got to be reacquainted with my Grandma, as we shared a room. The second night saw me attend my first formal dining event.
I ate so well during my time on the ship! And even developed a liking for fruit smoothies.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to our first sighting of land since leaving.
This was the lovely city of Stavanger.
The thought had entered my head to write a blog post previewing my tips for music in twenty-thirteen, but so far I only have two (three, if Luke Atlas manages to record and release some post-Brite Futures material). I didn’t want to look back at 2012, as in all honesty it’s had a lot of pitfalls.
At the start of the year I had two jobs; now I have zero. But I also have two new additions to the family, so I shall count my blessings and reflect on this year. Thanks to Adam, I was up and out of the house at midday today. I bought cupcakes, and pretzels, and independent coffee! And I was home before six. Thanks to PopJustice, I spent tonight in bed, researching the year in music.
The highs and lows, who was in, and who is out (for good). Here’s my contribution to the 2012 Readers’ Poll.
Best Single: Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). From the first few seconds, you can tell this is going to be a song that carry on as an anthem. It carries a message that can be taken into the hearts of everybody who hears it, and mean something completely different to all of them. It’s powerful, and Kelly Clarkson sounds as perfect as she did ten years ago.
Worst Single: Amelia Lily – You Bring Me Joy. I only ever heard this when my parents had the radio on in the car, and it always used to annoy me. It seemed popular, but to my ears, it falls so flat. Songs are supposed to have individually structured verses, and a bridge and chorus, and even a middle eight. This just plods along and doesn’t deserve my attention.
Best Album: Ke$ha – Warrior. I know it’s only been a week, but this honestly is my favourite album released this year. It’s so fun and catchy. I love Ke$ha, she is an amazing songwriter, a dedicated performer, and I really do believe she can sing her little heart out for the world to enjoy. Long live the Dance Commander!
Worst Album: Madonna – MDNA. I picked this as my choice for worst album simply because it did not live up to the expectations. In fact, I’d say it stumbled and completely fell flat after Gimme All Your Luvin’ (which was a candidate for worst video).
Best Video: Gotye (feat. Kimbra) – Somebody That I Used To Know. I’ve only watched it once, but the dedication and simplistic nature of the video held my attention for what ran the risk of being a none-event. This has turned me onto Kimbra, whose album Vows, is high on my playlist.
Shoddiest Video: Nicola Roberts – Yo-yo. It looked like it was filmed in the corner of a shed. A complete letdown for what is one of the best singles of 2012. Thankfully, the song didn’t even need a video, it’s good enough.
Best Cover Version: Paloma Faith – Never Tear Us Apart. Anastacia released an entire album of covers this year, but I was swayed by Paloma Faith thanks to this graceful rendition of Never Tear Us Apart which just about exceeds the original. Excellence.
Best Comeback: No Doubt. I literally never thought I’d see the day. After what seems like a decade, No Doubt are rightfully back in their place as my favourite band of all-time. Their seventh album, Push And Shove, boasts a varied selection of sounds. From their early Ska days, to the more recent sounds of Rock Steady, and introducing something completely new. Go ahead and look, that’s what they want (literally).
Best New Act: Lana Del Rey. Once she properly got going in 2012, Lana Del Rey left my jaw wide with shock. I couldn’t believe I had let her fantastic album, Born To Die, pass me by. All of the singles, all of the videos, untouched until one week in July – thanks to Channel 5’s Big Brother, of all things. My favourite track is Diet Mountain Dew. Thankfully, when the re-release rolled around, I was quick to act. Whilst not as instantly melodic as Born To Die, Paradise does have some highlights. The easiest on the ears is Gods and Monsters.
Most Ridiculous Recording Artist: Flo Rida. It could just as easily have been Pitbull, but this guy takes the biscuit thanks to that ridiculous recording name. Flo Rida is from Florida. Oh, how clever.
Best Radio Station: Europa Plus St. Petersburg. This year saw the purchase of my first ever digital radio. And with my general opinion being that popular radio stations come nowhere near to my taste in music (see next category), I cast my search far and wide over Europe, hoping to hear some t.A.T.u. and Aqua. In Russia, I was always happy with the playlists from Europa Plus. Highlights include Loreen, and what is my pick for best collaboration of 2012, Junior Caldera featuring Natalia Kills and Far East Movement.
Best DJ: @DoItForFame. My twitter (soon to be real-life) friend, Adam, has the best taste in music. He started hosting an online radio show and each broadcast has kept me on the ball with new music, whilst also filling me with nostalgia for the golden years of pop music.
Best TV Show with Music as some sort of Central Focus: RuPaul’s Drag Race. There were THREE RuPaul shows broadcast this year – and I was hooked to every single episode thanks to online TV. I cannot honestly think of any other TV show that prominently features music and influences me. Not just RuPaul, but the contestants, and judges. At the end of every episode, there’s a performance like no other. Lip Sync For Your Life, and don’t fuck it up!
New Act Most Likely to Save Pop: Natalia Kills. That girl is a goddamn problem! She was supposed to save pop in 2011, and she sang and danced her little heart out until it bled, but you monsters did nothing! So now, with the aid of Jeff Bhasker, she’s coming back in 2013 aiming to blow you away. Watch out!
Established Act Most Likely to Save Pop: No Doubt. Well… okay, this one is just me being silly. No Doubt have never been chart friendly. But their joyous return will continue for years, so who knows what to expect once they’re done pushing and shoving.
Act we should send to Eurovision: Jedward. I was gonna say Diana Vickers, but I don’t know if a kooky-acting, breathy-sounding woman will come across as being too much of a complete rehash of Loreen. So, when all else fails, beat Ireland at their own game and lock-in the gravity-defying twins for their third appearance.
Group Most Likely to Split: Blur. I’m not the Maya, I don’t make prophecies, but the likelihood of them calling it a day is high. I also can’t see Keane carrying on, but somehow their album did chart at #1, so who knows.
This is a quote from a blog entry I posted in March regarding t.A.T.u.’s break-up:
What would I like to see? How about a lifetime honour that’s not from MTV Russia: let them perform during the Eurovision…
And this is what was posted on Thursday (that I just read):
TATu who represented Russia at the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest have announced that they will perform at the first 2009 Eurovision song Contest semi final on Tuesday of next week.
And now I’m experiencing that familiar crash I get after finding out about new t.A.T.u. projects. That, “DMY, you know this won’t be as good as you’re picturing it.” Crash! But you see, the first time t.A.T.u. were on Eurovision, I didn’t properly savour the experience. I barely knew them, and from what I can remember thinking back, all the press thought they were going to do something scandalous during their performance. So I remember finally seeing it and being like, “Wow, Russian girls frolicking on stage – shocker! And they were never heard from again!”
I literally cannot even think straight enough to post this, I’m so consumed with a mixture of excitement and anxiousness that I won’t be able to sleep tonight! And the thing of it is, it’s not even been officially confirmed by EBU! Ack, I need a life; preferably that of someone in Spain who’s won £110 million!