OK it’s not all totally chronological but I thought it might appeal more to those of less advanced years:) The second decade of the 21st Century…
3 WORDS – Cheryl Cole/ will.i.am (2 weeks)
A new decade, and I started it on holiday in Gran Canaria, and in a club that showed the video this hit follow-up to Cheryl Cole’s monster 2009 debut Number One (in the UK charts). I really loved this, dancey, yet touching emotionally. Cheryl had already featured on 2 Girls Aloud Number Ones, will.i.am on 1 Black Eyed Peas Number One, but this was even better. Minimal, and as always with will.i.am songs, structured in an unorthodox, but effective build. Both acts of course reality TV judges, my greatest admiration is for will.i.am, the man is likeable, quirky, puts his money where his mouth is, is prolific (but talented), and supports the space programme and underprivileged youth charities.
MORNING AFTER DARK – Timbaland/ Nelly Furtado (2 weeks)
Timbaland’s 2nd Number One, and Nelly Furtado’s 4th, and another wonderfully produced dance hit. Timbaland had lost his top-rank by 2010, but was still great, and had by this point strings of big dance chart hits with a multitude of acts. Mystifyingly this was more of a club hit (although it went Top 10 in the UK), radio seemed to shun it, which is criminal (preferring instead the great follow-up with Katy Perry “If We Ever Meet Again”). Timbaland had recently helped Russia’s Dima Bilan to win Eurovision with one of the great Eurovision songs – maybe it was payback for that!
STARSTRUCK – 3oH!3/ Katy Perry (1 week)
The current generation of pop stars seem incapable of releasing singles without dragging in fellow singers or rappers. Look at the first three Number Ones in my chart here…! I’m sure it’s all down to artistic integrity and nothing to do with maximising sales spurred on by manipulating record execs. Katy Perry usually manages on her own thankfully, but this is an exciting uptempo pop chanter to join in on. She had already had a string of great singles, Hot’n’Cold in particular had a long run in my chart but peaked at 2 so she was owed a number one. 3oH!3 have so far gone on to nothing much else. Hey ho…
ROCKET – Goldfrapp (1 week)
Consistently good throughout their career, Goldfrapp specialised in beautiful new-age-y type albums and singles, and 80’s synth retro-pop albums and singles. I love both versions, Alison Goldfrapp is cool, and I love all of the singles over the 10 years preceding this track, and was especially chuffed when Suzi Quatro did a glamrock cover of Strict Machine and phased it into Can The Can, as both of those deserved to be (but weren’t) number ones in my chart. Suzi criminally has never had one, despite many fab hits, but Goldfrapp managed one at last with this singalong pop retro number. Commercially they had peaked a few years earlier (pop fans are SO fickle!) but this is my favourite single of theirs (and the album it’s from), even if no-one else bought them but me!
TELEPHONE – Lady Gaga/ Beyonce (1 week)
OK, Gaga exploded onto the scene in 2009, and quickly notched up 3 great dance Number Ones in my chart (and the UK singles chart). The 4th one to do it drafted in Beyonce, just as Beyonce had drafted in Jay-Z for her epic mega-2003 Number One “Crazy In Love”. The Fame Monster, although I object to the practice of selling the same album twice, at least was virtually a brilliant double album for the price of one, the new tracks being the equivalent of a new album, so I forgive Gaga. This was a romping insistent singalong fab popsong, the video didnt hurt, and it made a nice change to hear Beyonce to do something great. Most of her post-Destiny’s Child career had disappointed me, bar half a dozen good singles. OK she’s gorgeous, a lovely person, fabulous live, married to Jay-Z and all that but her recorded output is sometimes annoying, and her singing … well she wasnt even the best singer in Destiny’s Child. Kelly is. Sorry Beyonce fans! Gaga, on the other hand, is a major talent. I regularly hear comments such as “Oh Madonna was so much better and she’s just ripping her off” to which I point out at this age and stage in her career Madonna hadn’t written a decent song or had a hit. That all came when she matured. Gaga is still very young.
ROCK THAT BODY – The Black-Eyed Peas (2 weeks)
will.i.am’s 3rd, and The Black Eyed Peas 2nd Number One, this is one that didnt actually get to the top in the sales charts. Following on from the monster 3-in-a-row chart-toppers Boom Boom Pow, I Gotta Feeling, Meet Me Halfway, (all good) for my money this was the best track, and what a great sci-fi “transformers-styled” video. As always, unorthodox song structure, as always, building throughout the song, this is just a wonderful, exciting dance track with the chipmunk effect well in force and effective on the hookier segments. Probably my fave BEP track ever, and theyve had quite a few goodies!
A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME – Glee Cast (2 weeks)
well, who would thought a TV show would throw up one hundred plus chart hits, almost all of them covers? It’s a great show, though, well-written and amusing, and sometimes also moving. Like this cover of the Bacharach-David classic, and their umpteenth chart-topper as songwriters. As sung by the sympathetic gay character, Kurt (Chris Coweth), this could have come over as overly-sentimental, but it’s strikes just the right balance with a great vocal performance. In fact, just ahead of the other great Bacharach-David song in the same show, from Kristen Chenoweth which peaked at 2: One Less Bell To Answer. Neither tracks made the actual charts, probably because the Glee cast core fans prefer poppier numbers. They don’t always do great versions of oldies, but sometimes, such as Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dreams” they do great alternate versions, or in the case of fun.’s “We Are Young” they made the original a hit!
IN A MOMENT LIKE THIS – Chanee & n’evergreen (2 weeks)
There have been more Eurovision Song Contest Number Ones In the 21st Century so far (4) than in the whole of the 20th Century (3) in my charts, which reflects how seriously most of Europe and beyond takes it – except the UK, who still think it’s the bland out-of-date joke that it had deteriorated into in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It isn’t. Modern Eurovision is fab, exciting and packed with great pop singles. The modern era, for me , started with Katrina & The Waves in 1997 and peaked with the fabulous French entry (and quirky non-hoper, but otherwise proper pop star) Sebastien Tellier’s sublime Divine in 2008, neither of which managed to top my chart. This 2010 Runner-Up did though. The engaging Lena won with Satellite for Germany, a bit more modern-sounding than this old-fashioned but supremely melodic boy-girl duet. It’s a great tune, and Chanee & n’evergreen gave a good performance, and ended runner-ups for Denmark.
PLAYING WITH FIRE – Paula Seling & Ovi (1 week)
Speaking of Eurovision. The only back-to-back Eurovision Number One’s from the same Contest, this was a great dance track, done well. Certainly more clubby than the one I preferred on the night (see above!) but it was a grower (and as I habitually buy the contest CD each year I get the chance to hear them more than once, which pays off with well-produced pop tracks like this). This duo did a great performance on the night for Romania, but they also had the distinct advantage that Romania had been producing world-wide dance hits over the years immediately prior to 2010 and after – so it had credibility too. Hooray! I’m constantly having to defend Eurovision to casual non-current-pop-buying viewers or musos sniffing down their nose. Nothing new there then, they did the same with an obscure Swedish group called Abba who I adored from the moment I saw them. Who definitely had the last laugh there then…?J
ALL THE LOVERS – Kylie Minogue (5 weeks)
Kylie’s 6th Number One, and a comeback big hit from terrific album Aphrodite, her best since Light Years in 2000. The video was memorable and fabulous (a mountain of semi-clothed writhing lovers), the tour was brilliantly produced, varied visually and entertaining, and this proved to be one of Kylie’s best-ever singles. Kylie might not be the strongest singer in the world, but she sure knows how to pick songs and producers, and put on a stunning live show. That’s why she’s still around! The previous album X had a run of traditional dance-Kylie top 10 singles on it, notably Wow which peaked at 2, and The One at 3 (in the real world this mysteriously stiffed though!), but didn’t include a chart-topper. More-cutting-edge-dance Aphrodite more than made up for that though…
CROSSFIRE – Brandon Flowers (7 weeks)
A solo album from the Killers front man and main-man produced this chart-topper (for me that is, they haven’t had a Number One hit anywhere. Yet). I just didn’t get bored with this epic-sounding earnest pop rock 7-week classic. The Killers tend to flirt with Pet-Shop-Boys synth-sounding albums, and Bruce-Springsteen-rock-sounding albums, both of which are fabulous, as are the singles. Since their first Number One in 2005, they’d had tracks that should have topped, like, Human and When You Were Young, but Brandon emphatically put that right with this brilliant hit. Even more impressive, since bursting onto the music scene from Las Vegas (via the UK initially) the influence of well-dressed guitar bands had at long last spread to young Americans. Grunge and Rap collectively sent (largely male) kids into a 15-year hideous baggy clichéd fashion-nightmare journey that even infiltrated into Europe for a time. Bless The Killers and other American young bands for rebelling against it. Kids dress well again now, hooray!
GREEN GRASS – I Am Arrows (1 week)
I Am Arrows is a post-Razorlight project for Andy Burrows. Razorlight had a Number One in my charts with Somewhere Else in 2005, but Andy seemed unhappy with the set-up there and moved on to some good solo pop singles in 2012 (Light The Night and Hometown, as played on Radio 2, where 7 years earlier they were Radio 1 material – albeit in those days Rock was the new chartpop, in 2012 rnb/dance was the new chart pop. Sound familiar? It should – pop music is very circular and renews itself every 5 years or so as the next batch of 14-year-olds look for something new musically). This record, returning to the point, is a melodic rockpop goodie, and harmony/melody is something Andy Burrows is good at, with some interesting bleep sounds in amongst the chugging rhythm and snappy guitar solo. In 2005 this would have been a hit, in 2010 singles chart times had changed sadly for poprock.
GET OUTTA MY WAY – Kylie Minogue (1 week)
2nd single off Aphrodite, and another dance pop gem from Kylie. As tastes changed in the young download singles chart Kylie’s singles started to peak lower than they would have a few years earlier, this one case in point: not a big hit, but a great record anyway, certainly up there with her best dance-oriented tracks, and her 7th topper in my charts. The album has a mix of songwriters, all of them good, so credit to Kylie and producer Stuart Price for being able to spot a good song when they hear it, and then present it in a perfect pop package. She’d come a long way from I Should Be So Lucky!
THE FLOOD – Take That (7 weeks)
The unthinkable suddenly happened. Gary and Robbie made up. Take That reformed on equal footing, both Take That and Robbie Williams were huge though Take That were on the upswing and Robbie had been sliding for a few years. My support had always been for Robbie’s much more satisfying albums and singles and body of work in general (11 number ones spread throughout his career up to 2009) than the boys (2 90’s chart-toppers, both with Robbie still there). After Robbie’s sudden departure it looked like that was it for Take That, they split up, and Gary Barlow had a fairly forgettable solo career, while Mark Owen turned out to be a surprisingly dab popsong writer (1 number one). When they reformed, minus Robbie, Gary and Mark shared a run of great big hit singles like Patience, Greatest Day, Shine and Up All Night, and most of all Rule The World which peaked at 2 in my chart. It took Robbie to combine with the lads to add that extra something, though, both for the great album Progress, and this fab lead single, arguably one of the best things any of them have done, and all democratically jointly credited to all of the band. Hooray! Sounds like a Robbie/Gary effort, but I applaud the democracy. Well done lads, you did good!