My Top 40 Songs Of 2006
1. Home - La Toya Jackson
Imagine if one of your favourite acts recorded an album 4 years ago (her first in a decade), released 2 amazing promo singles, published the tracklist and went on a publicity whoring rampage. And then shelved, re-recorded and postponed the album again - in order to promote Australian vodka. That is the tip of the iceberg of the "Startin' Over" debacle. You can probably imagine the relief I felt when "Startin' Over" was finally leaked in full earlier this year. With such a ridiculous build up, I was expecting a major anti-climax. I should have known better than to question the brilliance of Toy; the album is divine and one of the many highlights is "Home". To fully appreciate this song, it helps to know a bit about Toy's life story - that she married a psychotic gangster, who beat her up, drugged her, cut her off from her family and generally made her a worldwide laughing stock. La Toya wrote this song about growing up with the Jacksons and missing them during her time in exile. The result is a bittersweet ballad, which is reminiscent of Michael's "Childhood" - only good. I hope this makes the re-re-recorded version of "Startin' Over", due some time in 2007.
2. Water For Chocolate - Deni Hines
Deni Hines released her first new studio album in a decade in 2006 and I seem to be the only person who noticed. The album sank without denting the charts and only the second flop single from the album, a cover of "Son Of A Preacherman", received any airplay. It's almost criminal than the best Australian song of 2006 is already forgotten. The first single from Deni's album, "Water For Chocolate", is a urban dance-pop at its best. Deni does what no American diva could manage in 2006 - she made R'n'B fun again.
3. With Every Heartbeat - KleerUp Ft. Robyn
Every poof and his fag hag will have "With Every Heartbeat" in their end of year "best of" list. Robyn has quite simply taken over the internet. In fact, I'm almost beginning to fear that the hype surrounding her might end up being detrimental. I really hope I'm wrong because Robyn is the only pop diva to emerge in recent years who is worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as the holy queens of pop - Kylie and Dannii! "With Every Heartbeat" is the best thing Robyn has done since "Be Mine", a melancholy electro-ballad that positively ripples with emotion. With the proper promotion (note to Robyn - fire the idiots responsible for the Rakamonie EP!) this could be the breakthrough hit of 2007. Fingers crossed, Robyn deserves to be HUGE.
4. Easily Affected - Melissa Tkautz
Poor Melissa! Despite releasing arguably the second best song of her entire career, "Easily Affected", Melissa plunged from one new low to another in 2006. First there was the spectacle of her transexual ex-manager rubbishing her in the gay newspapers, then Melissa almost went bankrupt flying to Belgium to record "Easily Affected" with Kate Ryan's producers - only to see the song stall at #82 in the Charts, although this didn't stop her promoting the song with a showcase in Martin Place that will go down as the worst live performance in musical history (Melissa blamed the microphones) and finally, Melissa tried to drum up publicity by declaring that she launched the acting careers of Simon Baker and Marcus Graham and claimed that she was celibate for 5 years due to her heartbreak when they dumped her. Talk about a banner year! I can't wait for the release of her latest floptastic album in March 2007! Enjoy this slice of pop heaven from Australia's trash queen.
5. Perfection - Dannii
Dannii could release any old shit and I'd still buy it. "Perfection" received an underwhelming response among Dannii's fans but I'm yet to go to gay club this year and not hear "Perfection" at least once. I love the tacky sampling of "Turn The Beat Around" and don't get me started on the "Dannii films her Ibiza holiday on a cam-corder" video. Pure heaven!
6. Perfect - Princess Superstar
Princess Superstar is the American Robyn, without the pop-edge. Yes, she's THAT good. "Perfect" plays like a dance remix of "Konichiwa Bitches" - only it's far better. This is the best "work it like a gutter slut" club song of the year! Who else but Princess Superstar could rhyme "botox" with "blow cocks"? This was a massive club hit in Australia. I'm not sure how it did in the rest of the world but Princess Superstar is another fabulous diva on the verge of hitting it big.
7. This Time I Know It's For Real - Young Divas
The ongoing success of Young Divas is truly heartwarming for Australian pop fans. Just when Aus-pop looked like becoming an endagered genre, four Australian Idol contestants were thrown together by their record labels as a last ditch attempt to make some money after a series of flop solo projects. The result was Young Divas and they surprised everyone by having a massive hit with their cover of SAW's "This Time I Know It's For Real". Even more surprising is how true this stays to the original. Close your eyes and it's 1989 all over again! Bliss.
8. Tracking Treasure Down - Gabriel & Dresden
Faceless dance music? Not quite. "Tracking Treasure Down" is something of an oddity - a club track that started life as a cut from the "Pirates Of The Carribean" soundtrack, which has less to do with pirates and treasure and more to do with heartbreak and longing. "Tracking Treasure Down" is the most bittersweet and melodic dance song of the year. With the right promotion, this could have been a massive crossover pop hit. Instead, it has to make do with being a huge club hit in America and Australia (and I assume most of the world). The female vocalist does an amazing job and really deserved a "featuring" credit at the very least.
PS. Why are these DJs always so hot?
9. Nothing In This World - Paris Hilton
Stop snickering! Paris has all the musical ability of a stone deaf accountant but that didn't stop her releasing one of the best pop albums of 2006. Forget about the dire "Stars Are Blind"; the rest of Paris' album is nothing short of poptastic. One of the highlights is the second single, "Nothing In This World", which shamefully bombed in most countries. I blame the creepy video which had Paris rolling around with a 12 year old. WTF? The song itself is the closest thing to good, old-fashioned bubblegum pop to hit the Australian top 40 all year. I hope Paris continues with music. I'd take her over Britney, Christina and Beyonce any day.
10. Be Your Girl - Amiel
One of the most welcome returns of 2006 was Amiel's. Everyone should remember Amiel's two big hits - "Addicted To Bass" and "Love Song". After the success of her debut album, "Audio Out", Amiel came back with her follow up a couple of years ago and sold all of 10 copies. The album was actually rather brilliant and her record label took the unusual step of re-recording some tracks and remixing others in order to re-launch the album. The first cut is the sublime "Be Your Girl", one of the best pop songs of the year. The song ruled Australian dancefloors for weeks but only charted in the low 70s. I really hope her label hasn't given up on her. The Australian pop scene needs Amiel. She might be a bit hit and miss, but when she gets it right, the results are nothing less than spectacular.
11. Whole New World - Katie Price & Peter Andre
I worship Jordan. The woman is one of the undisputed queens of trash. I can stare at her photo for hours: those fake tits, the crazy hair extensions, the drag queen make-up and the "Gone With The Wind" evening gowns. H-E-A-V-E-N! Jordan could fart to music and I would buy it, however her amazing Eurovision entry "Not Just Anybody" signalled the emergence of a true musical genius. I have waited patiently for her to launch a solo career but have had to make do with her fantastic album of duets with Australia's greatest male vocalist, Peter Andre. The first cut was notorious before it was even released due to the leaked version of the track, which displayed Jordan's unproduced vocals in their full glory. I loved that version of "Whole New World" and I love the cleaned up, released version too. Trash at it's most glorious!
12. Maneater - Nelly Furtado
I have been a big fan of Nelly Furtado from the very beginning of her career. I wanted to throw myself from a tall building when I heard that she was recording her new album with Timbaland. Much to my surprise, "Loose" turned out to be one of the albums of the year. I loved the playfulness of "Promiscuous" but was blown away by the slice of adrenalin charged pop that is "Maneater". In one fell swoop, Nelly staked her claim as the unexpected urban pop queen of the year.
13. Self Control - Infernal
I LOVE Infernal. Their album is a shiny monument to all that is holy about Euro-pop but who in the fuck is choosing their singles? I mean, they have released the worst songs from the album. I hate "From Paris To Berlin" and "Cheap Trick Kinda Girl", while "A To The B" is camp fun but hardly single worthy. I have a suspicion that they have secretly hired Dannii Minogue as their manager because they are doing everything WRONG. Thank goodness, they redeemed themselves somewhat with this glorious cover of Laura Branigan's "Self Control". Hopefully, they will consider releasing "Ten Miles", "Fairytale", "Peace Inside" or "Loved Like A Maniac" as their next single.
14. Rec & Play - I'm From Barcelona
This is the first of my "Blog hits" - songs that I discovered due to the fabulous individuals who populate Blog Land. I'm From Barcelona were all over the internet for a good part of the year and I was instantly smitten by their unique, organic songs about life's minutiae. This song is so goofy and catchy and became my favourite from the very first listen. "We're From Barcelona", "Collection Of Stamps" and "Treehouse" are all good enough to make the list but "Rec & Play" is the song I keep coming back to. I even like the weird Swedish bit at the end. I wonder what they're saying...
Sneaky Sound System are on the verge of breaking BIG in Australia. "Pictures", their latest single, is currently in the top 20, they recently supported Robbie Williams on his Australian tour and their previous single, the spectacular "I Love It", returns to the Aus top 50 this week. Most excitingly, they have maintained this level of quality for a whole album. In fact, there are so many good songs on their self-titled debut set that any one of them is worthy of being released as single. "I Love It" is a real corker - Australian dance music, steeped well and truly in pop. This is turning out to be the party song of the year.
16. Stomp! - Marcia & Deni
I have devoted several posts to the amazing Marcia and Deni Hines. Their first duet is everything a pop trash addict could hope for and more. The mind blowing video in particular exceeded all expectations! "Stomp!" also saw the return of Marcia and Deni to the ARIA top 50 for the first time this decade. I hope Marcia's record company keeps mining "Discotheque" for singles; her cover of "Right Back Where We Started From" could be massive.
17. Jump Into My Car - David Hasselhoff
The sexiest man alive finally had a well deserved top 5 UK hit and even made the Australian top 50. The Hoff's cover of Ted Mulray's "Jump In My Car" is a work of genius. David's amazing vocals have never sounded better and the dance remix is CAMP. If only the Hoff would hurry up and release "David Hasselhoff Sings America" internationally. It is only one of the greatest albums of recent years!
18. He Doesn't Love You - Sarah McLeod
Sarah was the lead singer of the Australian rockband, "The Superjesus". "He Doesn't Love You" was one of the singles from her debut solo album and flopped like everything else she released from it. That is, until the track was remixed and became a dance sensation. This has been in the 10 of the Australian Club chart for the past 20 weeks and has become something of an anthem. If the silly bitch would only buy a dress and realise that pop is her calling, the entire world would simultaneously sigh in relief.
19. Set Me Free - Lorenz
The quickest glance at this Blog will reveal how much I love the tragic singing man-whore from Italy. "Set Me Free" is the piece of fabulous Euro-trash that announced Lorenz as a chart sensation when he reached the UK top 40 after embarking on a nude publicity campaign. Respect! The next single, "Right Back" appears to have been postponed or scrapped. I hope this isn't the last we see from Kerry Katona's great Italian discovery.
Every blue moon I stumble across an indie song that I like. "Apple Of The Eye" was my catchy indie favourite of 2006. Something With Numbers are an emerging Australian band fronted by a complete tool (as you can tell by the video). I was so enamoured with this song, I even went to a rock gig to see them! This song puts all those English posers to shame. This proves you can still play guitars and be entertaining - Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Keane (etc) take note!
21. So Over You - Paulini
Paulini is one of the women of 2006. Apart from the fact that Paulini basically IS the Young Divas, she also found the time to release a fantastic solo album and a couple of killer singles this year. My favourite of these is the "Crazy In Love"-inspired ditty (see the video clip), "So Over You". This is THE funkiest pop tune to be released by an ex-Australian idol contestant. I hope that Sony doesn't give up on Paulini's solo work. A listen to her "Superwoman" album makes it very clear that Paulini is the real deal.
22. So Under Pressure/Feel Like I Do - Dannii
This song just makes me cranky. I do like it, in fact I think it is something of an under-appreciated gem, but there were so many better options that could have breathed some life into "The Hits & Beyond" - "Gone" would have been my first choice. Even more infuriating is the amazing B-side, "Feel Like I Do". This song has top 5 hit written all over it. I prefer it to any of Dannii's new AATW material. Can someone talk me through the thought process that resulted in this pop gem ending up as the B-side to the third single? Dannii, we all revel in your fabulous incompetence but this is getting ridiculous. Pull your socks up, woman!
23. Player - La Toya Jackson
If "Home" shows a more serious side to Queen Toy, then "Player" is a return to her trashtastic best. Who wants to hear a 50 year old woman singing about bondage and "freaking all night"? I do! Then there is the amazing, "say my name, just say La Toya" breakdown and the Right Said Fred inspired "I'm too sexy" moment towards the end. A pop trash addict's wet dream!
24. Dream On - Christian Falk Ft. Robyn
This song grows on me every time I hear it. The first couple of times I listened to it, I wasn't sure what to think. "Dream On" appears to be an electro-lullaby to thieves and criminals. How fabulous! There is something wonderfully hypnotic about this song that keeps me coming back for more. I know it under-performed in Sweden but I'd much rather see this as an international single than "Konichiwa Bitches" or "This One's For You". This song is quirky and different without trying too hard. Some of Robyn's more recent output is coming very close to crossing that line.
25. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira
"Hips Don't Lie" was number 1 in Australia, America and the UK for what seemed like months and I am yet to find a single person with anything nice to say about it. Fuck you all, I LOVE it!
Watch the video and get correct!
26. Accident & Emergency - Patrick Wolf
Patrick Wolf is another artist I would have never heard of, if I wasn't a complete Blog-whore. I have listened to numerous songs from previous Patrick Wolf albums and concluded that he was pretty shit. Then I saw the cover of his latest offering, "Accident & Emergency", on the great XO London Blog and decided that any man wearing more make-up than Jordan deserved a second chance. I'm very glad I did because "Accident & Emergency" is nothing short of brilliant. I think I would need some convincing to invest in a whole album but if the other tracks are anything like this rock-pop gem, I'll be jumping on the Patrick Wolf bandwagon very shortly.
27. We're All In This Together - High School Musical
I love musicals. Any musical. Even shit TV musicals that rip off "Grease" and serve up a cast full of 12 year olds who sound like they spend their days sucking helium balloons. I love "Breaking Free", but "We're All In This Together" wins my vote due to the presence of the ultra-glamorous Ryan and Sharpay. Anyone who has watched the movie will surely agree with me that "High School Musical" is really all about them. I mean, they even perform on a sequined ladder! This song is hugely poptastic.
28. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani Ft. Akon
"The Sweet Escape" is the highlight of Gwen's new album and a fine choice of second single. I didn't mind "Wind It Up" but "The Sweet Escape" is more like it. There is something almost old-fashioned by the brass instruments and "whoop-ing" backing singers. This is one of the rare occasions when rap and pop collide and result in something gorgeous, not something utterly vile - like everything Fergie has ever released. Expect this to revive the fortunes of Gwen's album considerably.
29. Forget Me, Forget Me Not - Bionda
Bionda is so fabulous, it almost hurts. I hope everyone checked out my Bionda-post and watched her entire 3 song concert. I just love her. Any woman with no talent whatsover, who has the nerve to mime along to three utterly crap Euro-trash numbers is a goddess in my book. Oh, and did I mention she started her own political party to generate publicity? I think, I did. Anyway, it deserves repeating. "Forget Me, Forget Me Not" is Bionda at her sultry best.
30. Not Ready To Make Nice - The Dixie Chicks
I love country-pop and no act currently does it better than the Dixie Chicks. "Not Ready To Make Nice" is something of a miracle - it's not only a country song that managed to generate airplay on mainstream Australian radio stations but also a country song with a political message that manages to be catchy and entertaining. "Not Ready To Make Nice" is definitely worth a listen. I get excited any time something like this manages to break into the upper echelons of the Australian Chart.
31. Congratulations - Silvia Night
Every European who didn't vote for Silvia at Eurovision this year should hang their heads in shame. "Congratulations" is the most glorious thing to happen to Eurovision since Pall Oskar - and she didn't even make the final! I applaud Silvia for calling that homophobic cunt, Carola Haggkvist, an "ugly fucking old bitch". Silvia was joking but the shoe most surely fit. Then there is the song itself - a gleaming slice of Euro-pop that sounds like it just came off the Max Martin production line circa 1995. The part where she calls God on the telephone is beyond fabulous. When is this gigantic talent going to release an album?
32. Irreplaceable - Beyonce
Just when you thought Beyonce was in the process of committing commercial suicide, she released "Irreplaceable" and instantly revived interest in her stinking "toilet" album. The album might be rancid but there is no denying the charm of "Irreplaceable", a lovely mid-tempo break-up song. I really don't get Beyonce, she is obviously capable of brilliance as this number and "Crazy In Love" aptly demonstrate, but how does someone with so much going for her get it wrong so often? I guess I should be grateful that millions of dollars and mega-stardom can at least buy you one decent song out of ten.
Watch the video here.
33. To The Lighthouse - Moi Caprice
"To The Lighthouse" was posted on the amazing Don't Stop The Pop Blog a couple of months ago. It's another song that I instantly loved and went on mission to track down as much material on the band as I could. The only way I can describe the sound of Moi Caprice is to liken them to The Killers, if they went electro-pop and dropped the attitude. I still haven't managed to track down their album because none of the those Scandi-pop internet retailers can be bothered shipping to Australia, but I'll keep trying. This song is fucking amazing.
34. Heartbeatz - Styles & Breeze Ft. Karen Danzig
I was shocked to the core when Central Station Records licensed this fabulous piece of AATW dance trash. Actually being able to buy a Karen Danzig release from a store was a joy. I usually have to wait weeks for my CDs to arrive from the UK. "Heartbeatz" sums up everything I love about AATW - mindless dance rubbish with a craptastic, female rent-a-singer. Karen should be as massive as Kelly Llorenna! This is GAY.
35. I Could Say I'm Sorry - Universal Poplab
Yet another Blog hit. I think I first heard this over at the inimitable Catchy Tunes Of Sweden Blog. Universal Poplab specialise in the kind of catchy pop that only appears to be made in Scandinavia these days. Their album is almost bursting with fabulous pop jewels that sound something like a cross between Savage Garden and The Rasmus, only with a more poptastic edge. "I Could Say I'm Sorry" needs to be released internationally. There's no reason why this couldn't be big with the right marketing.
36. Ti Amo - Laura Gissara
Yes, it's the second Laura Branigan cover to feature in my countdown. That should give you some indication of how much I worship her. I should be writing off this cover version by Australian Idol reject, Laura Gissara, as an insult but I'm not that much of a snob. Laura (Gissara) has a nice voice and if she had enough money to hire a decent producer, this would have sounded rather wonderful. More importantly, she is a fan of the original and had nice things to say about Laura (Branigan). "Ti Amo" managed to chart inside the Aus top 50 before sinking without a trace. I hope Laura (Gissara) gets a second chance - the bitch has good taste in music idols.37. Rakamonie EP - Robyn
This only makes the countdown due to the presence of "Cobrastyle" and "Konichiwa Bitches" - oh and due to phenomenal cover art. I'm still not sure what Robyn was trying to prove by releasing this collection. The live version of "Be Mine" was pointless, the duet with Jenny Wilson is rubbish and "Jack U Off" has novelty value at best. Every bone in my body wants to see Robyn be the next big thing, so it annoys me intensely that she is wasting opportunities by desperately trying to prove her credibility. We all know Robyn is cool. She doesn't have to release boring music to prove it. That said, "Cobrastyle" (or "Girlie Style") is an excellent example of why the Teddybears are one of the hottest dance outfits on the planet. Robyn needs to stop trying to be Leila K and focus on making gems like this.
Now this really is faceless dance music, which shamelessly recycles an old classic to come up with a cheesy floorfiller. "More Than A Feeling" makes my list because it is a necessary dose of disco fun and because the Stafford Brothers are totally hot. This list needs to be sexed up a bit! Try this little number out at your next party. I guarantee at least one tragic poof will start doing the robot.
39. I'm Not Missing You - Stacie Orrico
Stacie Orrico released one of the best pop singles of the year and nobody seemed to notice. "I'm Not Missing You" is an insanely catchy number that was a complete and utter surprise given Stacie's rather dire previous output. If Britney or Christina had recorded this, it would have been number 1 for weeks - but it also would have sounded half as good. Fingers crossed that Stacie sticks with pop. It suits her wonderfully.
It feels appropriate to finish with another "Blog hit". The Attic caused major waves with their delicious "In Your Eyes" (no, unfortunately not a Kylie cover). "It's Beautiful" is another serving of electro-pop brilliance and I can't wait to get my hands on their album. "It's Beautiful" is one of those songs that expertly straddles the boundary between dance music and good, old-fashioned pop. The Attic are definitely an act to keep an eye on in 2007.
Coming soon is my end of year album countdown. Expect more ageing gay icons than you can poke a stick at!