IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
The highlight of your musical calendar has returned for the third successive year, after crowning Jordin Sparks’ ‘Battlefield’ the best pop song of 2009 and Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ the best of 2010.
Today, this year’s Top 50 countdown commences. Some artists will pop up more than once, some won’t pop up at all. There’ll be ballads, “down da club” rave-ups and, I feel I must warn you in advance, there WILL be some One Direction at some point.
Don’t forget there’s also a separate Readers’ Poll going on elsewhere – click the image on the left.
Here are the first 10 entrants to this year’s hall of fame. Check back on Monday for Nos. 40-31.
50. Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull – ‘On The Floor’
April, Peak #1
It’s amazing what a spot on a long-running American talent show can do for a gal’s pop career. Just when Jennifer Lopez was starting to look dead in the water (musically of course, not literally), American Idol upped her exposure and the effect on sales was much more Cheryl than Alesha. ‘On The Floor’ became a transatlantic hit and is one of the fastest-selling singles of 2011 in the UK. With a sound not a million miles away from a mainland European entry for Eurovision, it’s hardly innovative stuff, but hey – tonight we gawn’ be it on the floor. Whatever ‘it’ is.
49. Matt Cardle – ‘Starlight’
December, did not chart
Opening his post-X Factor career with a good, if not remarkable ballad from the increasingly tiresome pen of Gary Barlow, Matt’s team really missed a trick by not firing out the traps with ‘Starlight’. Far and away the best track from album Letters, its hands-aloft chorus and rousing video could have made for a stormer of a lead single. As the second single, it flopped. But with the album still selling well, it’d be a shock if the 2010 talent show champ got dropped before a second album.
48. The Wanted – ‘Lightning’
October, Peak #2
“THE LADS ARE BACK”, proclaims the TV advert for The Wanted’s second album Battleground. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, ‘lads’ – you may love a good swear and a boast about how many times you’ve got laid, but as ‘Lightning’ proves, you are still fundamentally a standard boyband. But given how addictive ‘Lightning’ is, that’s not really cause for concern. With a backing riff that sounds like the theme tune to a TV news broadcast and Siva’s amusing way of making ‘coats’ sound like ‘goats’, ‘Lightning’ is an energising listen.
47. Alex Gaudino ft. Kelly Rowland – ‘What A Feeling’
June, Peak #6
After setting dancefloors alight with ‘I’m In Love’ in late 2010, Alex Gaudino struck gold again with the help of Kelly Rowland in June with ‘What A Feeling’. A little more euphoric than Kelly’s standard make-love-on-the-floor offerings, it coupled a forceful piano melody with a ludicrously shout-a-long-able chorus to create one of the summer’s breeziest smashes. It’s clichéd beyond comical now, but what the hell – SHE PUT IT DOWN.
46. Rizzle Kicks – ‘Down With The Trumpets’
July, Peak #8
Initially charting at No. 84, Rizzle Kicks’ summer stereo-hogger ‘Down With The Trumpets’ got a huge boost thanks to a cameo on Olly Murs’ ‘Heart Skips A Beat’, and now they’re one of 2011′s biggest breakthrough success stories. Oozing with personality and with a head-invading chorus to match, this instantly put the cheeky duo on the radar as a pair of budding musicians to keep an eye on.
45. Britney Spears – ‘Criminal’
December, did not chart
UK radio may have abandoned all support of Britney in 2011, but that didn’t stop the hits coming thick and fast. With a hilariously melodramatic video that saw the personality-free hitmaker rob a shop in riot-hit London, ‘Criminal’ is one of the year’s most under-rated pop songs. It’s got a flute in it, for Christ’s sake… A FLUTE!! And what’s more, it sounds more like Old School Britney than anything she’s released in years. A wailing vocal and a bubblegum drum beat, and here you have an overlooked Britney classic.
44. Alexis Jordan – ‘Good Girl’
February, Peak #6
Alexis’ album showed she wasn’t quite the Saviour Of Pop that ‘Happiness’ hinted at, but she still had a few more floorfilling aces up her sleeve. Not least ‘Good Girl’, which carried one of the year’s best rhymes – “You got what it takes, you better have some cake”. Alexis is already hard at work on Album No. 2, so let’s hope the follow-up to her eponymous debut has more songs like this and substantially less of the filler.
43. Ke$ha – ‘We R Who We R’
January, Peak #1
Missing two As and two Es from the title seems a bit 1990s, but ‘We R Who We R’ got the year started as only Ke$ha knows how – with terribly “sung” amazingness. An essential pre-drink anthem for students the nation – nay, world – over, the song saw in Animal expansion EP Cannibal, and gave the American her first stint at the UK No. 1 spot, without having to provide the chorus on Flo Rida’s fucking terrible ‘Right Round’.
42. Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilara – ‘Moves Like Jagger’
August, Peak #2
The Number 1 that never was, ‘Moves Like Jagger’ may have been a chart-topper in the US but it spent a painfully drawn out SEVEN weeks waiting patiently at No. 2 in the UK. What eventually spoiled it? Being horrendously overplayed. But putting one of the last decade’s most under-appreciated bands firmly back on the global A-list, and with good reason, it’s undeniably one of the biggest hits of 2011.
41. Charlene Soraia – ‘Wherever You Will Go’
October, Peak #3
Essentially the 2011 equivalent of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Your Song’, Charlene’s stripped-back, Sophie Habibis-encouraging spin on ‘Wherever You Will Go’ shot to the higher end of the charts thanks to a spot on a high-profile TV ad. It is undeniably lovely – perfectly pitched for this time of the year, and making enough of a change to the original to make it a good song in its own right. And the way she pronounces ‘wherever’ as ‘whewwwever’ is just too damn adorable.
Coming up in Numbers 40-31: an array of global megastars, one guitar-wielding newcomer, and another boyband. Check back on Monday.