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4 days til Christmas...

Oy vey, I tells ya that all the Christmas crazies were out in force in Chaventry (Coventry) again today. No puking school girls or tied up sailors this time. No. Some evil little Damien clearly sensed my terror of pigeons and ran his clapping merrily five year old ass directly into them so they all flew up at me. Now this was during the very busy lunchtime shopping period and I don't want to say that I overreacted but I certainly waved my arms around and flinched (there may have also been wailing!) like a loon on loon tablets whilst buying a plane ticket to looney town. My nerves were all shot to hell, and my cheeks flame red with humiliation. I haven't had an incident that scary with the birds since I "went down" on a ginger lass many MANY moons ago and she hadn't even had the good grace to wash her fou. But I digress. Then some little hooligan teens came screeching out of Virgin Records, setting off all sorts of alarms, and were being chased by a very burly security guard. They started throwing stuff at him to slow him down, and to his credit he dodged out the way very adeptly. I on the other hand, had no such luck and a cd (which I later saw to be the duets album from Katie and Peter – how ignomious!) hit me squarely in the shoulder. I finally made it to WHSmiths only to see that a pigeon had flown into the upstairs part and was fluttering like a crazy thing around all the books. I'd had enough and loudly exclaimed "oh for f**ks sake" before mincing out, ignoring all the glares from the moms and pensioners. Bah, humbug, etc. By the time I got back to my desk, I had gone grey and had to listen to some soothing festive tunes from sarah mclachlan. Bless her. Anyway, today lets focus on the magnificence that is the top twenty favourite albums of the year from the creators of thezapping website (e.g. me!)
Of all the albums spawned in 2005, my top twenty list was fairly eclectic. It represented the best of electro-clash pop with entries from Girls Aloud, Rachel Stevens, and Madonna. Boybands were represented by exciting new act The Click Five and the increasingly brilliant McFly. Reality tv was represented by G4's debut album and William Young's excellent Keep On opus. There were many left overs from my favourite new finds of 2004 (Keane, Killers, Scissor Sisters and Maroon 5) as they all continued to be big on 05. There was also a healthy smattering of new artists at the higher end of the list – Charlotte Church's pop debut struck a chord as did sensitive singer songwriters Daniel Powter and James Blunt. Magic Numbers wooed me with their sunny brand of californi-pop. But it was Deborah Gibson's double whammy of demo cds that kept being played most throughout the year. Let's see what 06 bought me then, shall we…
Click here to be taken to thezapping spin off blog for numbers twenty thru eleven! Ooo, etc….
10 ~ Mohair: Small Talk
I really had huge huge hopes for Mohair and actually perhaps 2007 will be their year. Indeed if I had done a 6 in 2006 feature, they certainly would have been part of it. Revitalising the generic rock industry by producing songs that were filled with cabaret and organs and killer choruses and enough pomp and ceremony to fill the Royal Variety Performance. End of The Line and Keep It Together were doused in innovation, while Life and Stranded were clearly written with stadiums in mind. These songs are too huge to go unnoticed for much longer…
09 ~ William Young: Keep On
Kicking off his third album with Switch It On was a ballsy move. Ok it wasn't that courageous but we just wanted to write something about William and say ballsy so we could titter like a schoolgirl. But in all seriousness, Keep On was an accomplished set of tunes ranging from dance (Switch It On) to timeless balladry (All Time Love) to outright funk (the aces Ain't Such A Bad Place To Be). Stand out track Who Am I was one of his most beautiful creations yet and his live shows evolved into slick, professional theatrical productions. Can't wait for more.
08 ~ The Killers: Sam's Town
I've written about what a grower this album is quite recently, so I probably don't have that much more to add here. Lead off single When You Were Young was a tune so huge, it could barely be contained on radio and some nifty Stuart Price remixes meant it spilled over to the dancefloor. The lack of success for Bones bamboozles me as it's an anthemic little number that will blow people away at the festivals next year. And although not on the album Great Big Sled is destined to become a Christmas classic. Whaddya know? I did have quite a lot to say after all!
07 ~ Lily Allen: Alright, Still
Don't hate, D'luv! This is one of the freshest breakouts of the year, and while her gobby mouth seemed to ultimately attract more attention than her songs, you can't deny that this debut bought something different to the world of pop. LDN and Smile were perfect summer hits, while Alfie makes faux-bossonova cool all over again. Knock Em Out soundtracked some classic moments on Entourage and Littlest Things proved that ol' gobshite had a heart after all. And it's compact length and numerous unreleased recordings surfacing meant this zippy project remained vital long past it's supposed sell by date.
06 ~ McFly: Motion In The Ocean
We are at the part of the list now where we are getting to acts that I have written multiple posts about already and so it is hard to find something new to say about them. However, McFly produced one of the most varied and musically accomplished album of the year, making their niche success and inability to break out of it even more mystifying. The first two singles from the album perhaps don't show it's stronger side, but the cavenous Sorry's Not Good Enough is a mini masterpiece in waiting, and their young age belies such mature and astounding songwriting. Bubblewrap, Translyvania and Friday Night all stand out on an album with no dud tracks. And their cover of Don't Stop Me Now provided an energetic reading of one of my favourite Queen songs. So leave your prejudices at the door and dive into the ocean :)
05 ~ Take That: Beautiful World
Who would have thought that after 10 years of nothing, Take That – my favourite boyband of all time – would be back with such a vengeance. And is it telling that they do so in a year when Robbie's Rudebox fails to make my top twenty? (his first album to do so!) The reformed foursome surprised everyone by not only being hugely in demand, but crafting an eclectic and mature album of very accessible and memorable tunes ranging from the elegance of Patience through to the jaunty Shine and folksy Wooden Boat. Everyone wanted them, and as much as I love my little Robbie, they handled surpassing his star with much more tact than he ever afforded them. A class act in more ways than one…(PS - is it me or does it look like they left a space for Robbie on the cover??!)
.04 ~ Scissor Sisters: Ta-Dah
Much as with the Killers, there was much rumblings that the Scissters sophomore set didn't match the ingenuity and sass of their much loved debut album. It's certainly been a difficult year for sophomore albums, but I embraced this one whole heartedly. From the first few chords that lead into I Don't Feel Like Dancing to the honkytonk piano of I Can't Decide through to the dancefever of Kiss You Off and Lights, there certainly was a jaded bounce in the Scissters step. However, whereas on the first album I wasn't blown away by their balladry, here they stepped up to the mark and produced the beautiful Land Of A Thousand Words and swoony romantic I Just Might Tell You Tonight. What's not to love? Even a song called Intermission is groovy fabosity.
.03 ~ BWO: Halcyon Days
It wasn't hard for me to put this (way) ahead of Pet Shop Boys Fundamental, an album I just found it incredibly hard to access. Halcyon Days however, proved that dance pop with an edge wasn't just confined to girl group mania and really this is what Steps should sound like if they were back together. A triumph of catchy tunes and ballads, not only did the singles glitter like a disco ball on acid, but album tracks such as Marrakech, Obsession and even faux reggae of Hanging On The Phone made this one non guilty pleasure from start to finish. And early next year we will have some Halcyon Night remixes to tide us over for a while…
. 02 ~ Simon Curtis: Alter Boy
OK, this album wasn't officially released in 2006, but it certainly was my one bright hope for pop in 2007 and bought back to mind a time when pop could be dark and insightful and gleefully malevolent as well as catchy and bright and danceable. Simon's Alter Boy features an array of strong tracks (with more coming as final listing has not been decided yet) with songs of betrayal, religion, discrimination, sex and love. His producer Jadion should be credited for assisting in producing a sound that is a fresh as anything coming out of Sweden, but with an edge that makes it relevant for a world market. Simon knows pop and I'll eat my hat if he isn't big in 2007.
. 01 ~ The Feeling: 12 Stops and Home
Sigh. And so a debut album tops my list. With eight freshman albums in my final list, it certainly was a good year for new music and entering the blogging world is partly responsible for some more diverse tastes. No one produced more life affirming, radio friendly, video worthy, live stage excellency, cheek bone splendour than The Feeling did this year. So much more than a guilty pleasure, they embraced all the elements of feel good pop and made it their own with gorgeous layered harmonies and choruses so utterly moreish, you got calories added on just from singing them. Fill My Little World is by far my favourite track, but Never Be Lonely and Love It When You Call showed a firm grasp of what makes a good pop song great. I Want You Now is ripe to be covered by Wilson Phillips and slower songs like Rose and the "we're all freaks so embrace it" philosophy of Strange were powerful and rewarding numbers. Plus any act that features Mr Ellis Bextor and Dan Gillespie (Sex) Sells (RAR, etc)deserves to be high on any year end list. An auspicious debut from a promising act.
Christmas must be a really lucrative market for singers. Most singers have dabbled in the Christmas song category if not pumping out a full album of snow filled classics. Maybe it's because a lot of songs are now public domain and they don't have royalties to be paid. Or perhaps it's the knowledge that if you write that one classic Christmas hit, you can pretty much live off the lucrative royalties for life (how do you think George Michael funds his nighttime driving or Mariah Carey her anti-crazy pills?). Certainly, Mariah is rolling in the cash from the seminal All I Want For Christmas Is You – a giddy joyous yarn that now is so ingrained in the festive season that it seems like it's been round for ever. Now remember when Jose Gonzales completely reimagined Kylie's Hand On Your Heart? Well, the lovely (and slightly unjustifiably forgotten by me) Teddy Geiger has put out a Christmas EP with an acoustic interpretation of Mariah's tune on it and quite lulling and hypnotic it is too. Toning down the exuberance on the song gives it a far more yearning reading and Teddy's voice is – as ever – quite rustic and pretty. Sigh. Thanks to one of our most fave bloggers XO for hooking me up with the "toonz"!
LINK: Purchase Teddy's festive EP
MP3: Teddy Geiger – All I Want For Christmas Is You
~ Happy birthday to Jayden from fabbo boyband Digital. Have a splendid day young man.
. ~ Hurrah to the magnificent Poppostergirl (who I now for some reason call Veronica Mars) for catching the McFly Live Lounge session! And noticing that Tom is wearing a Wicked hoodie. And thinking of me when she noticed that! Pop on over to her site for a lovely mp3 of Happy Christmas (War Is Over). I now practically have a Christmas McFly EP :)
~ Although Jadion still remains my producer of choice for 2007, I have to now stop ignoring the quite good-ness of Mark Ronson, who has produced several classic hits this year and now has an album of covers he has produced out next year. I don't know much about either of these songs so if anyone can enlighten me that would be great. All I know is the first one has some miraculous instrumentation full of horns and strings and inventive beats and there is something so heady and organic about it (and XO and Veronica Mars both raved about it recently!) and I totally love the merge at the end into You Keep Me Hanging On. And Toxic is pretty fine too…
MP3: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before
MP3: Toxic

Coming soon! All the stuff mentioned on yesterday's post…


  1. Digital Technique said...
    OMG!! What an amazing version of All I Want For Xmas Is You!! Bought Underage Thinking when I was in America in the Summer but haven't really listened to it all that much - am gonna go dig it out now!! Also love your top 10 albums of 06, especially #1!! What an amazing album and what a great live act as well!!! Also have finally uploaded a proper post on my site, this time about one of the best UK boybands of recent years, V!!
    Paul said...
    it is rather spiffy no? Glad you liked the album list too! And how weird - i was commenting over at your site while you were doing mine. the loss of v still breaks my heart!
    PinkieDust said...
    so much to catch up on!
    J'ason D'luv said...
    You shouldn't admit you don't know "Stop Me If You Think..." in print on a music-related site. Go educate yourself on The Smiths, heathen.

    Okay, how eerie is this.... as I'm typing, The Smiths "Stop Me" randomly came on while playing my iPod.
    J'ason D'luv said...
    And did you use the word "fou"?
    Poster Girl said...
    The return of PinkieDust! Ahhh! :)

    Great top 10/20, but then, that was never in doubt (then again, I don't know how you can really judge other people's top whatever lists, so I guess what I mean is that I like a lot of the albums you've put on the list :) ) ;) Requests to Will Young and McFly: please don't release a greatest hits yet! I need the maximum amount of new songs from them the next time they put an album out. And I love the Veronica Mars references!
    Paul said...
    Mr. Dust. You don't write, You don't call and yet you know i worry ;) Hope all is good with you!!

    D'luv to luv you baby ~ i may be committing heresy here but to be honest i never really got the smiths. my brother loved them so i was educated by force (a la clockwork orange!) but i just think meh! I'm sure they were genius ;) I did use the word fou. ssshhhhhh!

    Veronica! i too need full fourth albums from William and McFly who - is it just me or would Tom make a brilliant Boq and William an amazing Fiyero in Wicked?? said...
    Brill list Paul, nice to see McFly & TT up so high as well. The Feeling album is AMAZING, only just missed my top 16 albums of the year.
    PinkieDust said...
    Sorry about the no writing bit. Just very busy, stressed with details and so on. I was even in Boyz last week! RAR!
    PinkieDust said...
    emailed ya!
    Robpop said...
    Paul i totally agree with your list. But I'm agreeing with all the damn lists. Did you get my simon curtis review. it wasnt totally positive but i tried to be constructive rather than just rip it shreads.
    Paul said...
    i did rob(o)pop thanks even though it broke my heart ;) How dare you not totally agree with me :) hehe, just kidding you loveable scamp you!

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