2010 has passed and like many bloggers, I thought it time to review some of the music that really moved me last year. Looking back, 2010 was a great year for music. Electronic music continued to evolve as house, techno, disco and soul melded into fresh, yet borrowed, sounds. Disco continued its rise but remained underground and it was a year for pop to rule the charts, although most pop confounded and frustrated me.
Some favourite songs
Her album The ArchAndroid is without question my favourite album from last year. Janelle is visionary and innovative and just gets on with creating her art like few in popular music. Tightrope epitomises what I love about her – energy, wit, groove, style, horns, dancing – all brilliantly executed. Modern soul. Check out her recent single “Cold War” – personal and affecting. I saw her in concert in December and she threw down and performance and show like I’ve never seen before, like a crazy, female James Brown. But when she stood alone with just a guitarist and sang “Smile”, tears came to my eyes.
This caught my ears mostly due to the bubbly synth bass. A great melody and heaps of soul from Bobby Womack. It just perculates. Then I saw the sexy video! Nuff said.
As “Fuck You” rightly caught everyone’s attention and America’s with the tiresome toned-down version, this is the song that I love. Released as a single in November, it seems to have been overlooked. Combining the Billie Jean bassline with just the right amount of synth, strings and soul, the video has Cee Lo with cigars and champagne and some odd subplot about espionage. He’s one to watch in 2011.
The sisters released this track as a teaser for their new album and while I’m not a massive fan, it signalled a different sound which made me sit up and notice. Referencing FGTH (all good in my book) and all that 80s excess, it builds and builds until the drop at 3:20. They finished their recent concert with this song – a whirl of light, colour lasers, smoke and production – awesome. The video is a stunning melange of weird imagery produced by a Spanish directorial group called Canada. A sublime, adult combination of song and video.
I first heard this song at David Mancuso’s Loft party in London. It was about 9pm, the place was jumpin’ and he played this. The whole room, except me, seemed to know it and sang along. I thought it was an old soul classic, but no, it’s a new song from the Darkstarr crew of Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris.
What is left to say about this superb slice of soul. A true artist with something to say – it’s impressive and heavy. The video was shot in one take in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the exact location of JFK’s assassination.
This tune was inescapable this year. One of the defining dance tunes of the decade in my opinion. It never fails to put a smile on people’s faces. Essentially a cover of Anthony & The Camp’s “What I Like” from ’86, it further cements the 80s/90s influence which is dominating dance music.
Arty and brooding, Hurts arrived this year with their very grown-up album Happiness. There’s comparisons to PetShopBoys, Depeche Mode, Johnny Hates Jazz, or even Pseudo Echo and again while sounding 80s – this is just wonderful pop music. Check out the Arthur Baker remix and Kylie cover. And to return the favour Hurts covered Kylie very well. Everyone’s happy then.
Ost & Kjex “Continental Lover” – two Norwegians doing blues house.
Lovebirds “Alright” – continue to deliver great house music with every release. Strictly for the dancefloor.
JD73 “Into The Night” – A funk/soul/electronica band from Leeds who are bringing the funk and disco action back. Watch them in 2011 along with Los Charly’s Orchestra
Sunburst Band “Man of War” – dance and politics meet on this stunning remix of Man of War. Deep and bluesy.
Ron Basejam “For the people, by the people” – a killer album (Deep and Meaningless) from Crazy P’s Jim Baron.
Bonar Bradberry “Siula Grande” (Pete Herbert Remix) – for me this is where house music went in 2010. Pianos (sampling Soft House Company), synth, funk, fun. Pete Herbert could do no wrong last year.
- Lovebox Festival: Grace Jones (still incredible – see her you must), Hurts (classy but dull as a live act yet), Hercules & Love Affair (fantastic house act), Jocelyn Brown (in a tent with 100 people=so amazing I cried, then later in the year at the Jazz Cafe)
- Paloma Faith – kooky as all hell and artistic
- Kelis – wearing almost nothing and delivered a big electro/house show
- Scissor Sisters – tight, camp, rude, pop/rock – check ’em
- Sunburst Band – blew me away – Joey Negro’s live band – pure and sexy soul
- Janelle Monae – insane, mental as anything energy like nothing I’ve seen
- Mica Paris – my top musical moment of the year and hanging with her backstage was the best thing ever. A gorgeous soul.
- Chic – seeing Nile Rodgers slap that bass was heaven. Genius gig
- Candi Staton, Julie McKnight, Barbara Tucker @Defected Live – a triple treat of soul ladies.
- Dennis Ferrer – stunning New York house
- Martinez Brothers – more New York house goodness
- Danny Tenaglia – 6 hours of musical journey
- Danny Krivit – he disappointed, a little too eclectic for me
- Derrick Carter – Always. Delivers.
- David Mancuso – a pioneer, the best sound system I’ve ever heard, all unmixed.
- The Shapeshifters UK – surprisingly good and not cheesey
- Copyright – threw it down after Shapeshifters UK
- Blaze / Louie Vega – would have been great but an weird crowd/odd venue 😦
- Mark Moore (S’Express) – tight 80s house DJ
- Joey Negro – awesome house set on NYE – dancing to his set with his girlfriend was way cool cos she’s gorgeous.
What I didn’t like: Pop music in 2010 left me unimpressed particularly the sonic assault that was the inclusion of 90s trance in most pop tunes. Rihanna’s “Only Girl” is a prime example. I didn’t get Robyn and her sad dancefloor stuff, Kylie’s output didn’t move me at all although the title track “Aphrodite” should have been a single because it’s brilliant. I found Goldfrapp boring especially Rocket, and I’m sick of people singing in an American accent. I will live a better life if I never hear Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas or Ke$ha again. Make it stop and please return to something with heart and soul this year.
Roll on more great music and good times in 2011.