Top Ten Time!!!
10. "Sur Un Fil" - Circus.
So, after years of success as one of France's most established artists, what did Calogero do next? Well, he went back to his band-roots and formed a new band by the name of Circus. Their debut single, "Sur Un Fil", had bucketloads of laid-back charm and enough of the distinctive Calogero-style to appeal to old and new fans alike. I haven't heard their album yet but will make a point of doing so!
The most significant and welcoming trend in Swedish music in 2012 was the increase in Swedish-language releases by artists who were previously known for their English-language output: Mando Diao and Robert Pettersson (Stiftelsen) are two good examples, but the biggest surprise of the year was the reinvention of Petra Marklund, once known as September, the floorfilling queen of dance, who reinvented herself as a more credible artist with a darker musical style, collaborating with none other than Jocke Berg from Kent. And....it worked. Big time. An excellent, brooding yet anthemic track.
8. "Silver Moon" - Donkeyboy.
One of the long-awaited events of 2012 - the comeback of Donkeyboy - was threatening to disappoint me, as I didn't like "Pull of the Eye" at all. But then along came "Silver Moon" and everything was alright in Donkeyboy-world again. (Although, for me, "Ambitions" will always be their finest moment). "Silver Moon" is a delightful slice of pop perfection, and there was never any doubt that it would make my end-of-year chart.
7. "The Shallow End" - Sam Sparro.
After a very long absence, Sam returned with a look which was definitely influenced by Officer Crabtree from Allo Allo (!) but most importantly, with his album "Return To Paradise" which was a cracking, Prince-influenced return to form. Of course you knew the way it was going to go: criminally overlooked in this country, but warmly appreciated on the European continent - particularly in Belgium where "Happiness" was one of the biggest tracks of the year. "The Shallow End" however was the standout track for me, a disco-tastic celebration which musically belongs to another time and place, and is all the better for it.
6. "Sad" - Elton John vs PNAU.
A genuinely innovative musical surprise. PNAU's latest adventure, in conjunction with their biggest fan Elton John, was to take something old and turn it into something new. The resulting album was "Good Morning To The Night", a genuinely inventive musical experiment. More than just a remix album, it spliced together some of Elton's old songs and made completely new songs out of them. While we wait for Empire of the Sun's second album (not long now, they've promised to let us hear a new song by mid-February!!) "Sad", released as a single, kept the vibe going and its unique selling point was that it doesn't sound anything like the generic rubbish which was the sound of 2012.
5. "New Age" - Marlon Roudette.
Ah, another one of those 'technicalities' which first made an appearance in 2011 but my appreciation of this song reached its height in 2012. If you'll remember my "Great Lost European Hit" award from previous year-end charts, which recognised songs which were big "over there" but sank without trace "over here", then this for me, is this year's absolute winner of that prize. What makes it all the more annoying is that Marlon (formerly of Mattafix) is a British artist who hasn't had the recognition he deserves in his own country. "New Age" is a fine pop song with a great deal of warmth and likeability, and has been one of the most enduring songs of the year. I never get tired of hearing it.
4. "Starlite" - Christophe Willem.
Yet another song which was initially released during 2011 but which I never heard until 2012. Based around a sample of "Ain't Nobody", Christophe sparkled his glitterball-tastic disco magic all over the song, with brilliant results. Whilst I was on holiday in Nice, I couldn't escape it on the music channels: that sealed the deal, and a place in my year-end top 5 was guaranteed.
3. "Caliban's Dream" - Underworld feat Alex Trimble, Evelyn Glennie, the Dockhead Choir etc etc and a cast of thousands...
This was one of those ‘where were you when you heard ........?’ moments. In this case, the pinnacle of the London 2012 opening ceremony, when the young unknown British athletes lit the cauldron at the Olympic Park, a moment that we will always remember. A truly beautiful piece of music which absolutely reduces me to a pile of rubble every time I hear it. Pass the Kleenex. Maybe it was just that I was feeling over-emotional around the time of the Olympics, but this song completely blew my mind and blew almost everything else released in 2012 out of the water.
2. "Silhouettes" - Avicii featuring Salem Al Fakir.
Riding on the worldwide success of "Levels", the A-list Swedish superstar DJ can do no wrong and is in much demand. But let's go back in time - to 2011, when this track was first leaked on the internet and worked its way onto the dancefloors as a hot pre-release dance anthem. When it eventually got its official release in the UK back in May 2012, the song made it into the UK top 30 singles chart and was even played on British radio!
Yes, the impossible finally happened: a song with Salem Al Fakir on vocals, being played on my local radio station! It goes without saying that Salem's contribution really turns "Silhouettes" into a very special dance track indeed. And even though it maybe hasn't achieved the commercial acclaim of "Levels", it's still the song which refuses to die: not a week goes by without a new remix appearing.
1. "Remedy" J-Son featuring Salem Al Fakir.
Take it to the top of the world....and to the top of my chart. Yes, once again, Salem is back where he belongs - in the top two places of my year-end chart. Just after the 2011-50 was published last December, this song came to my attention and, well, you know the rest.
Although Salem has taken some well-deserved time out from his solo career, (with one very important 'production' earlier this year!!) he made that all-important guest appearance on this track by rapper J-Son, with whom he also collaborated with on Eric Saade's "Rocket Science" last year. This is an uplifting and totally joyous pop/rap song, the biggest musical feelgood factor of 2012 for me: there was never any doubt that this would top my annual chart. And so it has. Congratulations J-Son and Salem! Oh, and Salem....can we have a new solo record in 2013? Please????