It’s the final ever Backfill! I am commencing my review of my year in entertainment soon and so the final part to my previous reviews is now going live on my blog! Containing my top 60 songs of last year – posted over the next two days as I won’t be at my computer tomorrow so I’m scheduling out the second part. Most backfills are much longer than my normal daily post anyway, because I took much longer than a day to write them originally. I don’t know that I’ll do it, because I’m a bit short on time, but if I do, bold will indicate a song that’s now much better than its position indicates and a strikethrough indicates much worse. Any comments from me will be in italics. This is archive writing from Buzzjack.com and the last one I plan on copying for now, after this I shall now retire the Backfill section until I find further old writings that I feel I need to post here.
60 – Goodbye Tomorrow – Jay-Z
59 – Nightwish – Élan
58 – Art vs Science – In This Together
57 – Hozier – Take Me To Church
56 – Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds
55 – Carly Rae Jepsen – Run Away With Me
54 – Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You
53 – Fall Out Boy – Novocaine
52 – Marina & The Diamonds – Savages
51 – Muse – Mercy
Pigeonsandplanes is a purported Hip-Hop and Indie Rock blog that features a great deal of the former and not a whole lot of the latter (still like you guys but yeah, that was the case when I was visiting you last year). I tend to skip a lot of the hip-hop when I read it as it’s not really my thing. Most of the time. I was however, in one of my visits to this blog, really drawn in by the credible looking visuals that surrounded Goodbye Tomorrow, a mysterious artist or group of artists still at this writing, using an aesthetic reminiscent of 90s computer architecture. Their music is also quite glitchy and 90s sounding, with a guy rapping with a similar flow to Kendrick or Kanye. And their best is a song about Jay Z. Funny how that figures. Coming with a beautiful video showing, in a glitchy computer sense, quite an amount of black history up to the present day where everyone is partying all day every day. I get the feeling it’s sarcastic about where that fits in. It’s also so very very enjoyable. This sort of clever rap and instrumental combination is the other perfect sweet spot for me with hip-hop, where as Hendersin’s great lyrics and nightcorey catchiness was one end, this isn’t as catchy but so very much more powerful. The rest of Goodbye Tomorrow’s stuff that I’ve heard, particularly 100K, an eponymous track and The Way are also great examples of innovative hip-hop. Best rap group this year.
Like I said in my Nightwish essay towards the beginning of (this part of the backfill), Élan was the track I had been waiting nearly 4 years for. It felt like a LONG LONG time. So coming up to it, with the pretty artwork out there (seriously, how beautiful is this, the image of jumping off into the great unknown:
), teasers abounding, I was very very hyped for this. Then it came and actually, initially, I was slightly disappointed. It was good but this was NIGHTWISH. I had built up so much hope in this that it actually felt a little bit flat and not as exciting as I’d hoped a Nightwish comeback single would be. Certainly it was no Storytime. So I listened to it over and over again in the hope it would grow on me. Eventually, after many many listens that have inflated it greatly in my year-end list, it grew on me as one of Nightwish’s quieter, more serene songs, which I suppose does go with the title of Élan, one should expect a track called that to be a bit more graceful. And it’s so wonderfully Celtic and wistful. I think the initial disappointment only made my excitement for the era greater in the end as there was far better to come on Endless Forms Most Beautiful, I was just going to have to wait another month for it.
In This Together is what I like to imagine an extremely good indie-dance-rock track sounds like, the restless vocals, the bubbling instrumental, the tagline of ‘in this together’, it all comes together in one very exciting rhythmic package. It’s one of my favourite discoveries from BJSC this year, I’ve had so many great great listens from it. As it sounds like nothing else I can think of, I’ve had to in order to get my fill of this very upbeat and invigorating electro-indie-dance-rock subsubgenre. So many genres I’ve listed there, that normally means something good in most cases and it’s so very true here.
It’s been in my 2013 and 2014 End of Year and yet this is the highest it’s ever come (on its final appearance of course), it’s a track I have loved ever since October 2013 when I first heard it, so it was so satisfying to see Hozier finally smash in such a big way towards the beginning of the year. I started to watch the video more than I ever had before, I had it on repeat, because when one of your favourite underground songs you’ve been willing to become a hit finally smashes, there are surprisingly few feelings of ‘it’s no longer a song for me’, and so many more feelings of ‘finally! Everyone’s finally gotten it right. Hooray for the charts’. That’s why I follow them, to see these underground beauties smash against the odds and the established acts. And Hozier’s voice is still as beautiful and haunting as it originally was. Obviously I’ve now heard more from him than this track but I think this will always be my favourite. To have stuck with me listening to it fairly regularly for over 2 years, not many tracks can do that.
Also from near the beginning of the year, it was another of my favourite artist’s returning with a song. Well, I say that, but I have felt like I’ve been losing interest in Rihanna for a while now. She must have known this was the case, I like that theory far more than she was bored of doing the same thing all the time, as FourFiveSeconds was exactly the right song to keep me in the fold. For now. If it had been another Calvin-produced banger (and look at exactly what she did next year, I’ve been really disliking most Rihanna songs in 2016, sadly), I’d have lost interest instantly. I may have liked it, but I wouldn’t be following her in the same sense I don’t follow Katy Perry and whoever else, I’d listen to their big singles on occasion and nothing else. The thing is with FFS, it’s a beautiful duet, you can feel the emotion in Rihanna and Kanye’s voices, some fantastic guitar strumming from Sir Paul McCartney, I don’t really know what they’re singing about but it sounds brilliant. And most importantly, it shows a willingness to evolve and show an artistic direction. That’s so important for me in music, to feel like the artists are trying different things or at least liking what they put out too. I’d say, without knowing if this information exists, this is most probably something Rihanna’s far more proud of than most of Talk That Talk and Unapologetic. Because it really does feel that way. Now I’d just like to see if the rest of the (upcoming soon) album sounds more like this or whether it’s going to sound like American Oxygen (which was good for a couple of listens then became boring). That’s the next step, Ri. Get it right and I’ll still be on board. (OOPS, although some of Anti was good, but I’ll cover that shortly)
Pop songs don’t really come more high class than Run Away With Me. Carly’s first attempt at recapturing her initial hold over the public this year, I Really Like You was rather cute but didn’t grab me the way this one has. It has a good rhythm that demands you don’t turn it off, a gorgeous siren backing that adds a nostalgic feel to the track, and of course a pretty brilliant chorus. It took a while for this to fully get my attention, I first heard it on holiday in Tenerife and I thought it was rather great, great enough that I’d keep it around in my chart for ages after that but not actually listen to it much. Then in September, it suddenly really hit me and I was head-over-heels in love with something I thought had been ever so slightly overhyped at first. It was not in the slightest. That’s my chart run for it, I don’t normally share those but it shows what a slow burner it was for me: 35-31-34-34-21-28-30-34-27-31-OUT-12-4-5-8-etc If other people have had a similar experience as me with that, that might explain its unusual lack of success. It really didn’t deserve that.
Ahh, Electro Velvet. I think I can claim to have been this forum’s first fan of it. (and still one of the few, I maintain that it’s still the UK’s best entry this century, not like there’s much competition but yanno) On the launch night, listen #1 was very much ‘okay what the actual frick was that, it sounded quite fun though, let’s go back for another listen’… 10 minutes and 3 more listens later, my opinion was very much ‘okay why on earth is everyone saying this is awful, for once the UK entry is properly amazing’! Because it really is. That opinion only served to become more pronounced through the weeks. I look forward to something similar happening this Eurovision season with at least ONE entry, even if it isn’t the UK one (as that’ll probably be awful now we have a NF (and what do you know, I was right, it was entirely filled with bland boring crap)). Electro-swing, as one later entry proves, is a very fruitful genre in the limited greatness I’ve been able to find of it, you can really feel a lot from the songs and they’re hella catchy almost by default. The back-and-forth of a couple worrying about each other is a decent lyrical concept, but I just love the ‘just dance’ bits, as well as the descent into the SCAT. That just makes it come alive. It had been a rough old time for me with the UK, and even though we didn’t do very well again, at least I could claim to be liking our entry on more justification than some vague patriotic hopes (which normally is something I try to avoid feeling, if my home country’s entry is shit, it deserves to fail, but I can’t stop myself from being completely that way). Probably half of why I enjoyed this Eurovision so much.
Like much of Fall Out Boy’s album, I saw Novocaine as another potential to be a huge rock classic. And then they never even released it. I suppose it wouldn’t have done as well as some others even if Fall Out Boy could get more chart hits now but back in the mid-00s indie-rock heyday this would have perhaps been a cool top 30 hit? It’s harder than a lot of Fall Out Boy’s material, and what sets it aside from nearly every other Fall Out Boy is a really big rise and fall into the chorus, which is so invigorating to listen to. That’s why it’s come up ahead of so many singles, it’s Fall Out Boy at their most terrific, and a nice diversion from the rest of the rather dancey album. Although, an even more abrasive one of theirs is yet to come.
Another standout album track; I barely pay attention to what’s a single if I get the album early, what are the important tracks are those I initially get obsessed with. That track for FROOT was Savages, an intelligent lyrical masterpiece with some really catchy singing to combine ‘I’m not afraid of God, I’m afraid of Man’ being one of the more brilliant lyrical lead-ins. See, that’s what makes a great track, the combination of it all. Savages gets the balance of speed, message and music just right. That message is ‘underneath it all, we’re just savages, hidden behind shirts, ties and marriages’, a brilliant constructivist point, that we are just animals and the bad we do is that instinct (that obviously we should learn to control, yet if we do, that will be under just another construct). It’s the human condition, you don’t get a more powerful matter than that.
Finally, for this section, one of the two Muse tracks from Mercy (bar The Globalist, which isn’t in here because.. I don’t know, I wanted to save space (it should have been in)) that hit me in a huge way off Drones. Mercy is one of the most epic Muse have ever gotten, it’s one of their ballads, with a big belting out chorus but yet it doesn’t feel like one, it starts fast and the instrumentation continues fast, like you’ve leaped off a huge slope and are racing downhill as you’re going through the verses, you can’t stop it and it’ll race towards the ski jump whether you like it or not but then the chorus comes and you’re floating through the air. The song itself is clearly a part of the dystopia-concept, someone running away from it, that’s pretty obvious. Being so early on, it’s also revealing part of what’s behind this culture of drones. In any case, it’s an absolutely huge tune and one I was unsure if Muse were still capable of, but it’s exciting in the same manner that Starlight and Knights Of Cydonia were exciting and in time will surely become one of their classics. Albeit a really underrated one.
50 – Rachel Taylor – Porcelain
inside I’m burning up in flames
49 – PinkiePieSwear – Flutterwonder
deep wide-eyed wonder
48 – Axwell x Ingrosso – Something New
I see the dawn of a new beginning
46 – Rachel Platten – Fight Song
and I don’t really care if nobody else believes
Perhaps the first song I got obsessed with this year, Porcelain was a sound I never expected to come from Rachel Taylor, former frontwoman of He Is We. They were known for delicate little indie-pop tunes veering on the side of folksiness and one collaboration with Owl City aside had never stood out hugely for me. Even a couple of years later as Rachel attempted to relaunch them as a solo act it didn’t stand out. The point is that Porcelain was the best representative of an EP that had completely changed its direction. In terms of pop subgenres, suddenly Porcelain is up in your face using some pretty heartbreaking lyrics if you listen to them right, the lyrics about a bad relationship that she just can’t escape from. It’s one of the strongest pop songs I’ve come across this year and what made it better was this surprise. Rachel Taylor is now very much on my radar for the future (although she’s now performing under She Is We, with some similarly decent pop songs).
Two of my entries (hi Séyetana) in a row, and actually, Flutterwonder is sitting at the top of my last 12 months chart on last.fm currently. The very top. I think it’s only not up at the very top of my EOY chart (evidence of how close together this all is, oh yes it gets slightly better in quality as we rise but we entered my 10/10 section back at about #68) is because it’s too short, it’s over too quickly. And that’s why I’ve played it so much because it should be a 6-minute wonder that reels you in and keeps going. The happy little distorted vocal and rolling instrumental take me to another world, a world filled with beautiful, natural wonders, a world that you might have only discovered by chance but are really glad you did. That’s the magic of such an emotional song, I mean, it is mainly the backing that does it but it couldn’t do it without the vaguely incomprehensible ‘deep wide-eyed wonder’ refrain. A rare gem that came from the brony phenomenon and one I’m very glad has amassed a small fanbase on here ever since I entered it.
Like Sun Is Shining, Something New is uplifting, filled with the same sort of Scandi Eurodance vibes that got me loving Don’t You Worry Child (well obviously), and is a brilliant continuation of that Swedish House Mafia legacy. Unlike Sun Is Shining though, which is all about the singing in the chorus, Something New has the most brilliant instrumental chorus, filled with feelings of looking towards the future, optimism and sun. And that’s all you really need in your dance songs. It gets really great towards the end, after going through a couple of choruses, it could have tired on you, but with ‘kisses over Babylon’, it starts a march up to the final chorus, the final leap into the great unknown and the best of the SHM drops. That’s exquisite. (might consider Sun Is Shining better now but yeah, this is all so close)
I like saying that I love music from all different cultures, as that’s cool. Unfortunately it often seems, aside from the boring steadfasts of USA, UK, Australia, Sweden that the only countries with a musical legacy worth anything are the rest of the Scandinavian nations + South Korea and Japan. So when I get a banger with a heritage that is quite the opposite of it, I tend to treasure it even more. As it happens, Rıyzamın is the Kazakh anthem that everyone always wanted and if they haven’t heard it, they will want it. Filled with ethnic vibes but a lot of familiar pop sensibilities, it’s euphoric and just sweeps one away in its fervour to unleash Kesh You’s vocals upon the world. Give it a try if you haven’t heard it, it is quite the experience listening to it first time even if this sort of ethno-pop isn’t your thing. Definitely one of the songs that I was easily taken in by in BJSC this year.
A second Rachel in a group of 5? Yeah, that’s happened. And Fight Song doesn’t really need any introduction. It’s one of my favourite UK #1s this year and for good reason. While it obviously owes some debt to the big pop-rock hits of the 2000s, we’ve been really missing some of that in the chart, so that’s not a problem. We’ve also been really missing some beautiful unabashed belters for making people feel good about themselves. Those are always necessary. To top it all off, it’s from a girl who I’ve been following for what seems like ages and I was really hoping she’d some day make it big, so its made all the better for that as I’ve already said, that’s the sort of thing I love seeing. The one thing I have a slight issue is that the lyrics aren’t exactly what I might have wanted her to smash with, I still really like them however I may not have gone with the ‘fight song’ angle had I been writing it, ‘1000 Ships’ is still a better song lyrically (a MUCH better song lyrically, let me emphasise that, and musically too). But, that said, it’s very true to her artistry and who she is as a person based off her former songs, as I said down at Stand By You, so I bet this smashing was one of the happiest moments of her life. Her joy is so apparent in this track, I find it impossible to say anything negative about it without feeling bad, it’s fortunate I don’t have to.
45 – Reol – LURVATORRRY (feat. nqrse)
Takanatteku kodou itomete yo you know?
44 – Andy Duguid (feat. Jaren) – 7even
I feel the light…
43 – PVRIS – Holy
But simply calling out sins don’t bring you closer to God
42 – Fall Out Boy – Uma Thurman
Divide me down to the smallest I can be, put your, put your venom in me
41 – Tonight Alive – Human Interaction
I need to breathe before I turn the world to grey
LURVATORRRY, the song whose title I can never remember to spell right, is one of the most crazy Japanese songs I’ve ever come across. Not the most crazy, there are a few moreso than this but it’s certainly up there. And that’s no mean feat when it comes to Japan and in particularly songs using anime imagery and vocaloids. I question what it’s about lyrically, it’s almost certainly not something to be examined seriously and critically, but it’s a huge bundle of fun and it found its way into my heart incredibly easily. Largely because of its breathtaking speed and cute little vocaloid voices. Sometimes that’s all you need, for a song to be unashamedly fun. (this is most awesome and I feel like it deserves a bold, definitely one of the best songs for me, it’s just so FUN)
On the other hand, when songs make you feel something, they can often do it beautifully. I will always hold to the notion that dance is the genre most reliant on making its songs emotional, without this, they’re just dry. And the subgenre of dance most designed to make you feel things, trance, is so often a hit with me for that very reason. 7even is a song with very few lyrics but what lyrics it has are punctuated by a powerful melancholy feeling and an undercurrent of instrumentation yearning to break out into the light. That it’s obviously about the last vestiges of life makes it even more tear-jerking so that even before I looked up why it was written (for a young cancer patient), I felt swept over by emotion listening to it. Each listen is so beautifully powerful, and just when you think it’s reached its zenith, it crashes down again to bring another great instrumental. A towering example of why trance can be the most wonderful genre.
My second-favourite PVRIS song of the year is Holy, mainly for the refrain ‘you poor unfortunate soul’ that gets more anguished every time Lynn sings it. A take that anthem against those who claim to be religious (or in any cause) for their own self-worth and therefore aren’t true to their word, I found this the first song from White Noise after getting it that kept with me. It shows a slightly darker and warier side to PVRIS that is seen a lot less in their other songs in here. That Lynn seems to have regret for this character is even more intriguing, but it does really hit home with me, that it’s so easy to be misguided and as humans we’re such flawed creatures that people can fall while thinking they’re holy, it’s something we should not forget as so many of the problems in the world are caused by those this song talks about. In a very wide sense. (I love analysing lyrics to this depth such that they are so important for me in music these days, pop songs with vapid lyrics just cannot compare on the same level)
Uma Thurman is far more of a fun song than those last two (that must be the 8th time I’ve switched tack in song mood, just bear in mind I believe in total balance in all things), reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s joyful emo anthems of yesteryear like Thnks Fr Th Mmrs. And Centuries from last year actually. The little Monster Mash sample serves to add to Fall Out Boy’s thing this era of taking inspiration and samples from all over the place in particularly the backdrop of American pop culture. And the lyrics are still emo-emotional to a sense but the whole thing feels so very light, helped by a very light-hearted ‘funny’ video. It’s a strange beast of a song really. Is Uma Thurman supposed to be good at dancing? All this talk about burying and blood, is that just to keep rock cred in this very dance-influenced single? Does the Monster Mash sample have any relevance? I have questions but mostly they can be solved by just saying that it is, as far as music goes, one of the most fun songs I have seen Fall Out Boy do and it kept in my affections for a long time and was quite instrumental in rekindling my Fall Out Boy fandom.
Tonight Alive I’ve often seen as a rock band that I could only get around listening away with listening to a few singles from. I don’t think that’ll be possible any more after listening to Human Interaction. Building on The Ocean, The Edge, Lonely Girl, it’s something quite different from all of those, a beautiful, tortured ode to being alone and introverted and how that makes you recoil into an even worse spiral without any human interaction, even the tiniest of contact, to help you out of it. At times it feels like Christina Perri, at times it feel more rock ballad. It’s certainly the first time I’ve felt they’re completely distinct from Paramore, I could never see Hayley doing a song quite as dark as this now, at least not without a cheeky wink to the side. For Jenna, this feels totally natural given what I’ve heard from her in the past, it’s not too far off a slower The Ocean, and there was plenty of emotion in that. I hope there’s more Tonight Alive loving in my future because this is a great start for me to see them as a band worth the love for more than one or two songs.
40 – Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On (feat. MØ)
what will you do when we get old
39 – Il Volo – Grande Amore
Dimmi che mai, che non mi lascerai mai
38 – Lo-Fi-Fnk – Nightclub Nirvana
We go where we wanna, missed you last summer
37 – Wolf Alice – You’re A Germ
We hear the one! two! three! four! five! six! seven! You ain’t going to heaven
36 – Marta Jandova and Vaclav Noid Barta – Hope Never Dies
There is no light to pray for, cold and dim are the skies
Thankfully, and quite amazingly, if you consider the positions Major Lazer and MØ were in before this shock long-runner, perennial critical hit dance producer whose song got used as the bassline for that awful Beyoncé song we shouldn’t speak of and Scandinavian blog darling, Lean On needs no introduction as one of the biggest hits of the year. I’m still not bored of it even after it’s been forever transformed from the little underdog hit that was lucky to make the top 40 to a giant of streaming and longevity, and that’s because it’s just so good as a quirky left-field dance hit. MØ’s vocals are slick and laid-back as they always are on her songs, with some production that demands attention. You can see why it became a hit, I love it because it’s laid-back and that production is on fire. So very likeable with pleasant if obvious lyrics.
I was initially really struck with Italy’s Eurovision entry. And I continued to be, all the way until they gave their winning performance (that then got summarily denied by the juries for a far inferior song). I’m still slightly salty about that, it would have been fantastic to see Italy have a win and they’re not far off one I’m sure. The term of popera is marginally well applied here, it’s certainly moreso that than Sognu was, and it’s also so much more an interesting song than Sognu was (although I’ve had a bit of a renaissance with Sognu lately so don’t take that as too much of a slight against that particular song, I can’t wait to do Eurovision commentary here – what a weird disparate blog I have). The three voices work with and around each other to create a sense of urgency in this otherwise serene ballad, the lyrics are beautiful and easy to understand even if you don’t speak Italian, and all three guys are pretty excellent singers. A pretty perfect package of a song and I’m sorry to every single pop lover who thought Heroes was a great winner but this was, in my opinion, such a huge misstep for Eurovision on quality to not having this win, especially with such a clear televoting mandate. Something I’m going to be enjoying for years to come. Oh, and the video, with Back To The Future references (among two other films), that’s the sort of thing I like to see from Eurovision entries.
Nightclub Nirvana starts with a huge piano intro dropping into an encapturing verse right out the gate. The track barely slows down until it gets to the chorus, a whirlwind of excellent production and singing. Based off the only other Lo-Fi-Fnk song I know, Marchin’ In, this is like that, but on speed. Or nightcore. As it were. The whole pace of Marchin’ In was built around the slow synths and the repeating lyrics. Nightclub Nirvana has fast synths and repeating lyrics. And it’s quite a huge blast of energy. I have really played this quite a lot. A lot. One of the absolute best Scandi-pop songs I’ve heard this year, and I thought that part of the world could no longer surprise me.
You’re A Germ is my favourite Wolf Alice track, I didn’t quite see this coming after Giant Peach, because like I said down there, I thought the heavy guitar chords would be enough to secure that as my favourite. The thing is, You’re A Germ is just as heavy in places, but it’s also so much darker and filled with pathos and with a band like Wolf Alice, who meander in the shades of grey between lovely female pop voice and grungey guitar chords, that’s exactly what you want from them. The descent into the chorus ‘You’re ain’t going to heaven’ is every bit as exhilarating as it should be, despite the darkness of the lyrics. It’s pretty beautiful and I keep coming back to it because I just get attracted by that chorus and because I want to have a good think about how the lyrics work, how poisonous some people can be no matter what.
My other Eurovision injustice this year fortunately comes in the same section as Grande Amore. The performance by Vaclav and Marta of ‘Hope Never Dies’ in the Eurovision semi-final absolutely took my breath away. I voted for them several times that evening. Unfortunately, as a continent, Europe are sometimes complete shit when it comes to picking the right qualifiers. Or again, it’s the juries fucking everything up (I can’t even pin the blame on a certain song as I wouldn’t have wanted Hour Of The Wolf to not qualify either, I suppose that’s fortunate). By all rights, this beautiful power rock song (with vague traces of symphonic metal and the best of Central-North European rock voices) should have been the Czech Republic’s first qualifier. The title of ‘hope never dies’ is a plaintive cry out to be accepted into Europe’s pantheon of successful nations and it was the first song they’d sent which honestly deserved such an honour. For a long time it was my favourite song of Eurovision 2015 and it very nearly was in this too. It does have to settle for second best but this duet will remain one of the best Eurovision songs of the last few years, no questions asked. And not ONLY because it happened to be my sort of rock. It’s GOOD ‘my sort of rock’. Very good. Like, emotionally good.
35 – Lost Frequencies – Are You With Me
I wanna dance by water ‘neath the Mexican sky
34 – Morland & Debrah Scarlatt – A Monster Like Me
Just go, to find the prince you thought you found in me
33 – Nightwish – Shudder Before The Beautiful
The music of this awe, deep silence between the notes
32 – Macklemore – Downtown
Have you ever felt the warm embrace of a leather seat between your legs
31 – Against The Current – Paralyzed
But it’s making me stronger, fight a little longer, I’m gonna bring me back to life
All five of these songs I adore the lyrics too so much. I’ll start with the one for which that’s probably the most surprising, Lost Frequencies’ Are You With Me, the greatest example of chilled Schulz-esque dance that got produced this year. And that’s because it’s so minimalist, but the few lyrics that there are conjure up a warm summer night feeling that few other songs that I’ve ever encountered could match. If I ever want a track for playing as the sun goes down and night lights begin to come out, it’ll be this song. I love night vistas, I’ve put plenty in my signature over the years (looks like THAT aspect of my character carried over to my blog, eh) and Are You With Me is a brilliant song to be playing alongside that. It’s just far too short to go any higher. If it was 4 minutes or 6 minutes, I’d be able to put it on and not feel like it’s ended as soon as it’s begun. And all this for a song I thought was complete rubbish on first listen. Maybe it’s because I first heard it in winter because this is so very much a summer song (which is why it smashed then obviously). A glorious, chilled summer song.
Merely two places above Hope Never Dies comes my favourite song from this year’s Eurovision. It’s been a couple of years since one of those songs got right to the top of my EOY, Calm After The Storm had to settle for #40 and A Monster Like Me doesn’t do much better. However three songs in my top 40 shows this has been an improvement of an year. So that’s hopeful, even if they’ve all gone rather quickly. Now, why did A Monster Like Me hit me so much more than the other duets and ballads there were this year? Because it certainly wasn’t alone in that regard and it is probably lucky for it that it got into the top 10. Except I don’t think it was luck at all. The lyrics stand out so powerfully, in that they’re obviously dark but the way the song is, the monster telling their love to go and find a better person, thereby redeeming themselves a little, that tugs at my emotional heartstrings, particularly as the chorus descends from the nice solo vocals into a confluence of belting voices. That the song sounds polished, credible and classy is just another bonus (and fits in with the classy vibe Norway have got going recently, long may that continue). There’s little better than a dark ballad in Eurovision for me. Most of the time.
Shudder Before The Beautiful was the first song from Endless Forms Most Beautiful I felt really meant Nightwish were back. Élan had readied me to expect perhaps a quieter Nightwish, but fortunately Shudder… dispelled any notions of that by leaping right into the sound that I know and love them for. Tinges of Ghost River in it, although obviously a lot softer than that. It actually sounds like so many Nightwish songs that it doesn’t actually stand out much except when they leap into ‘WE ARE SHUDDERING’. But as the opener of the album it needs to sound familiar, and it’s the lyrical content that makes this great again. It’s a lot more abstract here than on most of the album but it’s clear to me that it’s meant to be equating music with the creation of things, throughout the album they refer to everything as being beautiful, and this is the great ‘shudder’ before that all happens. The middle 8, ‘the nebulae curtain falls, imagination, evolution, creatures from the vale’ hammers this point home and it’s at that point that everything starts to come together for one final shout. And then the rest of the album. A great Nightwish song and an easy one to get into if anyone’s wanting to see what they’re about (if you’ve missed me mentioning them at every conceivable opportunity).
The thing about Downtown that really makes it special is that all in all it’s one of a few pop songs that I can really feel things and get chills from. I’m not exactly sure WHY except that it takes so long to get to the chorus and the lyrics in that chorus are sung so well and bring a feeling of everything coming together for all the numerous artists on this track that it gives me the most happy feeling. It’s surprising because I never counted on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for good choruses, I relied more on the clever lyrics in the verses. And these are still good, callbacks to previous songs, still cheeky and humorous for rap, still very much about having fun, but they’re outshone by the truly phenomenal performances in the chorus. ‘Better follow me’, ‘what you see is what you get girl, don’t ever forget girl, ain’t seen nothing yet’, those are excellent for tying everything together. Though I do love from the verses the part where Macklemore chews out a guy for telling him to slow down. Because this track doesn’t ever slow down, it keeps going until it’s reached the most glorious climax and that’s such a satisfying feeling.
Paralyzed instantly reminded me not of Paramore, but more Kelly Clarkson. In that perhaps it’s a more hard-edged Kelly C, but obviously back in her glory days in 2005. It’s actually quite Behind Your Hazel Eyes updated for 2015. I had listened to a few Against The Current songs before this, most notably Gravity, but while I thought they were a good band, none had stuck with me to the point where I could feel the personality of the singer or what the band was about. Paralyzed unlocked Against The Current for me with some lyrics that get sung out so well by Chrissy, and a tune that’s pretty banging I was so instantly excited that I had to try and share them as a band, and I’ve done that. I’m surprised at this point how little they seem to have done when they’re consistently getting such high Youtube views and seem to have everything, catchy songs, likeable personalities and lots of fans going for them, but we’ll see how that goes when they release their album. I’ve heard lots of Against The Current songs since then, the more indie-pop Outsiders, the slower Dreaming Alone, Brighter, Talk, Fireproof, but the greatest will always (or at least, for a while) remain for me the ‘bring me back to life’ upbeat, no-holds-barred attitude of this song. Oh, and it did give me my most exciting BJSC experience of this year as those final results had it second almost the whole way. Smashing records and all.